“The darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”
1 John 2:8
Some years ago I was leaving a city where I had been ministering. The late afternoon sky was heavily overcast—dark, drizzly, cold, and oppressive. As my plane left the runway I watched the city sink into the joyless mist. I felt as if the darkness had penetrated the depths of my person. However, as we gained altitude the grayness outside my window began to lighten. Then like an explosion, we broke through the clouds and sun filled the cabin. My spirit awakened and a fresh sense of life and hope filled my being. What a difference the light made!
Perhaps John was experiencing something similar as he penned these words. He was not only defining a universal, cosmic process but also beautifully describing a personal dynamic working in the lives of those who are seeking to build on the rock, Christ Jesus. Spiritually, darkness (used 43 times in the New Testament) is not merely the absence of light, it is a ubiquitous, oppressive, and aggressive force (we could almost say a personality) that seeks to hide the knowledge of the light of the glory of God’s presence and person.
One of the chief effects of darkness is identity distortion. Spiritual darkness seeks to distort the image of God as Father, Christ as the pattern Son, and our humanity as radically redeemed. Living under the cloud of these distorted identities can yield the fruit of anxiety, fear, confusion, emotional instability, illegitimate religious striving, judgmentalism, frustration, discouragement, and disillusionment.
I recently engaged an unexpected surge of spiritual darkness. In the midst of it I heard myself praying in the Holy Spirit with tears and agony, “Lord Jesus, You are the MAN to whom I desperately desire to be conformed.” This prayer was followed by what I am fully convinced was His response, “If you seek to be authentically spiritual, it will require you to be and to become less religious!” It was not an answer I was expecting; however, becoming human as God intends began to make sense! I understood that the Lord was addressing a religious phenomenon: we are holy, and they are not. Nothing could be more religious!
Religion, as I am expressing it here, is a distortion of Father’s true identity, the nature of Christ, my own true identity, and how Father sees the world. This “religion” is expressed in our reluctance, and outright failure to effectively identify with those who are marginalized and without hope. Jesus, as a MAN, ate and drank with sinners (see Mark 2:15-17 and Acts 10:44) John’s declaration of “darkness passing away” was made within the context of learning to love [agape] one’s neighbor. But, like the lawyer who challenged Jesus, we would like to believe our neighbor/brother/sister is defined as people who think and behave in a manner that does not offend us.
Failure is very human. We tend to hide, stuff, deny or drown it in an effort to appear “Christian”. We increase our religious activity, trying to control our human short-comings with more prayer meetings, Bible reading, good confessions and thought control. We are afraid to be human!
We need to discover and embrace an unusual Kingdom philosophy that looks and sounds something like this: Happenings, failures, and accusing voices are deemed as compulsory to reveal our responsibility to abide securely in the goodness of God as our Father and Creator. Allow the darkness to motivate and press us back into the primary and foundational premise in all creation: God is good!
His goodness does not change, regardless of our present circumstances, confusion, or misunderstanding. We are able to say, in credible faith, “Father God, my mood, these failures, my dumb choices are used to return me to your goodness. I believe; help my unbelief!” An optimal way to deal with our personal encounters with darkness, failure, and mood swings is to break through the clouds and bring our whole person into alignment with God’s eternal purpose. We embrace the light in spite of surrounding darkness. Alignment [aka, righteousness], as the translation could be in Romans 14:17, is the precursor to peace and joy. Alignment in Christ’s Kingdom can be identified as: God is good! Creation is good! Christ has overcome the darkness! I am light in Him! God’s people are acceptable to Him because of who He is!
Because our vision is Kingdom, we align ourselves with the certainty that GOOD is permanent and consistent. Our human reactions may now be neutralized (not necessarily eliminated) with the truth that God is good. As we understand darkness, light begins to break through. The darkness cannot and will not overcome the light that is in you: “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in [your] hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6)
Could we consider john’s statement “the darkness is passing away” as a therapeutic and healing treatment? There are four doses in this prescription and you are free to repeat the medicine as many times as is necessary:
One. The unmovable foundation of all life is understanding that God’s being is good. Darkness and human failure, whatever the events, cannot change that. It is eternal in the fullest sense of the word.
Two. Darkness is passing away. He has transferred you from the authority of darkness! We may not need to fight the darkness, we need to gain altitude! When light breaks through we perceive that God’s nature and person is always seeking to redeem and refresh me. We are then able to say, in credible faith, something like this, “Father God, my mood, these failures, my dumb choices are all used to return me to you and to your goodness. I believe; help my unbelief!”
Three. In faith and perseverance I can and will penetrate this cloud of darkness, seeing it as necessary to press me out of distorted identities into the light of His eternal and creative purpose.
Four. By faith, I am increasing my ability to see that darkness is passing away. The light penetrates my person, my mind is enlightened, and my human spirit becomes joyful and peaceful. Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it! (John 1:15)
This biblical medicine is not a placebo, but life and freedom to those who would embrace it in the manner Christ has designed.
For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)