Page last updated



His Light Dispels All Darkness

by Gary Roth

based on John 1:10-18

In a book called "The Night Country," anthropologist Loren Eisley observes that we have been created with what he calls, "small day-born eyes," that fear the dark. Our physical equipment has made us creatures of the day; it was made to guide us through the day, not to navigate us through darkness. Physically we are creatures of the day.

Intellectually we are also creatures of the day. We see our lives as a kind of jog-saw puzzle. Each day we live, we add another piece. But we do not know what the finished puzzle will look like - only God knows. In our darkness, the complete picture is hidden from our eyes. So the meaning of our lives is a mystery to us - we don't know why we are here, or what the end of our life should look like. We don't know the total form - what the psychologists would call the "gestalt" - of our life. Yet one of our deepest desires is the need to know. That is why religion is so important to us. Yet our lives are generally a puzzle to us, a lot of questions without answers, a heap of problems without solutions.

Spiritually we are also day creatures. I believe that we are finding our intellectual and moral powers are no longer adequate to the darkness that surrounds our world. When Genesis says that we were made in God's image, it is saying that we were made to be creatures of the light, even as God is light. But we find the world a confusing place - not a place of light and darkness, but of shadows that seem, increasingly, to be turning toward night. For us to live in darkness, however, is an unnatural situation, a situation we are not built to cope with. We lack the necessary equipment. So our natural response is to huddle against the darkness, to fear the darkness, to withdraw and try to protect ourselves.

And so I believe that the Word John reveals to us today speaks to our world, and to us. It speaks to a world enveloped in darkness. It speaks to a world full of hatred and despair. It speaks to a world where some people are starving while others live in opulence. It speaks to a world where there is class strife, and ethnic strife, and racial strife. It speaks to men and women with small day-born eyes who live in a chaotic world, to men and women who find themselves overcome and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems facing them, and mystified by their own sense of insignificance and powerlessness against the forces of darkness.

The answers that John proposes to us are not a new form of product distribution or a new ideology. Nor does he propose a deus ex machina to suddenly set everything right without our help, through power crystals or mystical incantations. What he proposes is answer that begins with a word - a communication from the creative force of the universe, and therefore one which is in harmony with all life. He says, "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

The Word he proposes to us is not only a message then, it is a dynamic, creative force. He goes on to say: "He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." This Word brings order out of chaos, it reverses the order of nature - the perverted form of nature that seems to rule this world. It cancels out the law of death and of what Jaques Ellul calls, "the Law of Necessity," that demands that all things rush headlong toward destruction. This Word, John says, is a life-giving and meaning-giving power. He says, "In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

Not a magical answer to our problem. Not a flick of our own, internal, personal Bic to lighten the world around us. Not a new massive social program or ideology to cure the world's ills, to set us on the right path. But a creative power that has come into the world, that brings hope and a promise that our world, our lives, have been reclaimed - that the power of darkness will be dispelled by the brilliance of His light.

It is the coming of that light that we have celebrated this Christmas season. He has already come to us. We needn't search for Him. All we need do is to open the shutters and unbar the door and He will enter and scatter the shadows and fill the room with light. This is the hope that He brings: "To all who receive Him, who believe on His name, He gives power to become the children of God; who are born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of God."

If the world seems to be shrouded in darkness, it is only because it has closed its eyes to the Light of the World. There are answers to our world's problems, as difficult and intractable as those problems may seem. For us, the answer to the surrounding darkness is not to huddle in fear, or withdraw into pessimism, nor to deny the wolf that is at the door. We are called to live in the light, to live and walk by the light, in the presence of the Kingdom - to live "as if" it were already a present reality already, and to leave the consequences in greater hands than ours.

And it is still true - that our lives often seem insignificant and our actions meaningless in the face of the magnitude of the world's problems. Yet we also live in the promise that the light that shines in and through our lives is part of a greater light that will lighten the whole world. It is not the magnitude of our actions that matters, but our willingness to be witnesses to the Light which disperses all darkness. Whatever happens, there is One who is with us, who sheds His light upon us, Whose light will ultimately dispel all darkness.

Are there dark corners in your life this morning - places where the Son does not shine? Are your heart and mind open to receive the light He is shining upon your life? Or is He being shut out by fear, guilt or sin? Can you trust His light rather than the darkness; His sight rather than the dead-end alleys of your own darkened vision? Can you trust His healing and creative power over the power of your own limited and, often, misdirected energy? Can you give up control of your life to the One who can put all the pieces together again?

Trust Him! Look to the New Year with hope and joy! The Light of the World is here! And the darkness cannot overcome Him!