I’ve never liked darkness. It’s not that I’m afraid of it; I just don’t like it. For most of my adult life, I’ve been the one walking through our house and turning on lights if there is even a hint of darkness in the room I am entering.
Believe it or not, God is the same way.
There are many forms of darkness in our world and in the universe. At the beginning of creation, the cosmos was a formless void suspended in darkness until God spoke a single command: “Let there be light!” And there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)
Then a different kind of darkness entered the world. It was not caused by a lack of sunlight but by the presence of sin.
Natural darkness, that is, the absence of sunlight, is just a condition in our lives – and a temporary condition at that. The sun rises, and darkness retreats. The sun sets, and darkness returns. It is how we measure our days, and much of human time, but there is no evil behind it.
Then there is supernatural darkness.
A greater darkness
When sin entered the world, a supernatural darkness entered with it – and unlike the natural darkness of night, there was evil behind it. In fact, sin began with the evil one, that is, Satan (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-15), and it – and he – have been following us ever since.
No matter what mankind tried, sin was always present (Romans 3:9, 3:23, 5:12), and no matter how the human race adapted to its changing environment, Satan was always close by.
That was not God’s plan. It never was. God never wanted His children to stop loving Him, but it happened. And it still happens today.
If it’s not a choice, it’s not love
When God gave mankind the ability to choose Him freely, willingly, and lovingly, He also gave us the ability to reject Him and choose something, or someone, else. This state of choice is often called “free will” – and it is, at the same time, our greatest blessing and our greatest curse.
Did God want us to reject Him? Did He want us to sin? Of course not. But when one is presented with love, true love, one is also presented with a choice. If God had forced us to love Him, He would have reduced us to nothing more than flesh-bearing robots. Like the animals around us that cannot think, choose, or love on God’s level, we would have just been part of a pretty display on one of many planets circling one of many suns in one of many galaxies in the universe.
But God loves. In fact, God is love (1 John 4:7-8). And so when sin and Satan tried to pull us eternally from God’s arms, God was ready – already ready – with an even greater plan. It was not “Plan B,” nor was it a lesser alternative made necessary by unforeseen events. No, God had been ready, since before time began, to create us and then demonstrate what real love – His love – truly is.
Light dispels the darkness
Because of His love for us, God (more correctly, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity – Jesus, the Son of God) entered this fallen world as one of us so that He could die for us and take away our sins (John 1:29, 3:16-17; Romans 3:21-26, 5:15-17, 8:3; 1 John 2:2). However, Jesus did not take away our free will. He did not take away our ability to choose either to love God or to reject Him. What Jesus did was show us the truth of the matter, the way back to God, and the eternal life into which God was calling us.
It should be no surprise then that the Son of God proclaimed that He was, for all people and all time, “the way and the truth and the life,” and it should be no surprise that He told us – and implored us to believe – that no one could come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
This may sound unacceptable to many people today in a world that values subjective beliefs over objective truths, but God loved us too much to compromise His truth by watering it down or making it politically correct. Let the “spin jockeys” and “talking heads” do what they will, but God always wants, first and foremost, to save our souls and bring us home to Heaven.
The Light of the World
Jesus tried again and again to tell the people of His time, as well as us today, who He is and what He is. Of the many images He used, one stands out as we begin to understand the supernatural tension between sin and grace and therefore between darkness and light.
“I am the light of the world,” Jesus declared. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)
One of Jesus’ closest followers, the disciple named John (later called John the Evangelist), echoed our Lord’s words after He had died on a cross, risen from the dead, and ascended back to His Father in Heaven. Using words and images to remind us of the primordial creation story in the Book of Genesis, John professed, in what is now John 1:1-14 (NIV):
In the beginning was the Word [referring to Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John [that is, John the Baptist]. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
When darkness begins to overcome your soul, let Jesus, the Son of God, the Light of the World who died to take away our sins, bring you His redeeming light.
-- Dr. John Morris