Our world is in a very dark crisis.
This isn’t new. Our world has always been in one crisis or another. News only sells headlines if they sell you a catastrophe. They pick a catastrophe as the hook and draw you in to more and more despairing news. If they resolved a story happily, you’d be done reading, and they don’t make money if you’re done reading. Good news is no news.
In the crisis, the confusion, and the darkness, we are called to walk in the Light. The world is full of hatred and accusation. This is true in every side of every human equation, as everybody shouts their rage and hatred at the nameless “others”, usually from the safety of the Internet. Recently I watched as a good friend of mine was threatened and verbally abused on Facebook by people who didn’t know him, because he had stood for a cause he believed to be right (and won), and these people strongly disagreed. So they attacked a person. Not his ideas or his policies, but his person and his reputation. They wished death and destruction on him and his family. These were only verbal attacks but they can turn into physical threats rapidly, as I have also witnessed with other acquaintances of mine. But they attacked a person. A human being. A kind, generous, friendly person, who is always willing to help anybody who needs it, and is extraordinarily giving of his time and home. A person with a family that he is devoted to. A normal person who does not drive a fancy new car or own a big boat or live in any sort of luxury. This is how this works. There is no “The Man”. There are only the anonymous people we choose to hate, to vilify, and to spew our vitriol at because we don’t like something about them. This, my friends, is darkness.
We are called to walk in the Light. “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth ; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, wand the blood of Jesus His son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5. This is an utter rejection of the darkness of the world. It does not mean that there is not evil, but we are to attack the evil itself, never the people who are made in the image of a glorious God and loved by Him. We cannot hate the people who do not know Jesus for their sin, though we can hate the sin itself. We are called to love our enemies. This means the very people whom we believe are trying to destroy us, or our way of life or whatever political or other beliefs we hold dear. It does not mean we give in to them or we cease to fight the evils they follow, but it does mean we never hate them. We never attack them. We do not allow their hatred to embitter us to return the feeling.
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:15-16. Jesus did not die for Christians. There were no “Christians” when Jesus died. He did not die for people who were “basically good”. He did not die for people who deserve heaven (no such people exist). He died for sinners. He died for people who hated Him and beat Him. He died for the people who picked up stones and plotted His death. He died for the multitudes of people who showed up to see His miracles as if they were magic tricks. He died for the people who wanted a political and military savior who would rescue them from the rule of Rome. He died for His disciples, well-meaning, largely ill-educated, confused and occasionally unfaithful men. He died for me. He died for you. He died for the people who attacked my friend on Facebook and wished death upon him. We are not called only to lay down our lives for people who might do the same for us, or for people we agree with. He called us to lay down our lives for those who hate us and revile us.
“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God, should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21
There is so much hope in this, that if we live in the Love of God, rather than the shifting emotions of the world, we change the world. We are to expect hatred (1 John 3:13) but we are to love, love, love. In being in Love with God, we are in the Light with Him, and the Light shines through us, piercing the darkness, the chaos and the crisis. And this love, this unity with God, purifies us as we dwell in it (1 John 3:3). The Light is brighter than the darkness.