I continue to struggle with the role of the American Church at a time when the once distant, now global conflict of religion, approaches our shores. When darkness moves into the land, do not think that folk will join you in singing happy songs of worship to a God they do not know. Nor perhaps, that even your own countrymen will be on board with that, as the threat to their livelihood and loved ones becomes more real.
This morning as I read from the Gospel of John, I was stuck by the reality of darkness. It is by grace that I am saved, a gift from God and not of myself. Given that great point of privilege, I can easily mistake my new position in Christ as qualifying me as light, when even our own scriptures point out that the contrary. “If we say we are without sin, we make God a liar! Strong words from the same writer who coined these: “The light shines the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:5 NIV.
We are the children of light, but we are not the light. John the Baptist, “confessed freely, I am not the Christ.”
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79 KJV.
We, my friends, sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, but by grace. He is the light; we are the darkness, until we are made perfect in Him!
My fear is that because we have received light, we think we are the light, yet as I observe what comes out of me, let alone what I hear from those who profess light, I am assured that darkness often prevails in the people of light!
Mind you that I did not say that darkness prevails! Grace is providence working the works of light in the lives of humanity, the people of darkness. Yet darkness need not be feared. Several posts ago, I mentioned the book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” by Barbara Brown Taylor. Her well-articulated analogy of first time cave exploration, spelunking, passing through body sized narrow, absolutely dark spaces in silence, apart from the noise caused by the friction of her clothing, with only her coach’s blind promise of coming out on the other end was quite claustrophobic. Welcome to the journey!
Following Christ, faith, has often been referred to as a dark journey, so how do I walk this journey?
“It seems to me that what I am made for is not speculation but silence and emptiness, to wait in darkness and receive the Word of God entirely in His Oneness and not broken up into all His shadows.”1
We walk in darkness, so benefit most when we walk in silence. Our fear so often prevents silence, but “perfect love”, a gift from God, “drives out our fears.”
“Christianity is a religion of the Word. The Word is Love. But we sometimes forget that the Word emerges first of all from silence. When there is no silence, then the One Word which God speaks is not truly heard as Love. Then only ‘words’ are heard. ‘Words’ are not love, for they are many and Love is One. Where there are many words, we lose consciousness of the fact that there is really only One Word. The One Word which God speaks is Himself. Speaking, he manifests Himself as infinite Love.
If there is no silence beyond and within the many words of doctrine, there is no religion, only a religious ideology.”2
I am a part of the darkness, a moonlit darkness, yet in my moments of silence, by grace, I can enjoy the light reflected from the Son! Perhaps, even a conduit of light in the best and worst of times.