Why is there so much hate, violence, and downright evil in our world?
Violence walks our streets. Bibles are burned at supposedly peaceful protests. Families are disintegrating. Moral choices, unthinkable even a generation ago, are now commonplace in our society.
Nearly 3 million children in the United States can be labeled as “children of trauma,” children who are abused, neglected, and trampled upon first by their own family, then by society, and, finally, by their own poor choices made in a desperate effort to emotionally survive or escape.
Some would suggest we are in the twilight of civilization and the light is fading fast. Some wag their fingers at the darkness and at those who cause it. Others wring their hands at the mess others, no, we have made of our culture and say our problems are systemic and we are all guilty.
How would God like Christ-followers to approach the darkness?
Evil has always co-existed with morality. Even in the first century, Jesus observed that men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3;19). I’ve been reading through the Old Testament this year and let me tell you, some of those time periods were pretty gruesome.
That doesn’t negate the fact; we are all facing the fallout of moral corrosion happening in our society right now. Hurting people who hurt others. Unforgiven and unforgiving. Unintended consequences that limit choices and make it easier to choose badly again. Guilt, hogtied with depression, with a lack of motivation to try to do any better because there is no way out.
What to do?
A song reminds me of what a grace-filled Christian can do with darkness. The chorus lyrics of, “Go Light Your World,” read, “Carry your candle, run to the darkness, seek out the helpless, confused and torn; and hold out your candle for all to see it.”
When terrorists rammed commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and hundreds fled the anticipated collapse of the twin towers on September 11, 2001, EMTs and firefighters ran against the crowd into the darkened buildings, knowing their efforts bordered on futility, yet holding the flickering hope of saving a few.
When a lone gunman opened fire on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007, another lone man saved students’ lives by barring a classroom doorway with his body so students could escape out the windows. Dennis Miller, a conservative talk show host, described how Liviu Librescu, an elderly professor, was familiar with the face of evil, for he had seen it before as a twelve-year-old boy during the Holocaust. Miller says Librescu, recognizing the same face of evil that day in 2007, walked toward that evil and tried to stop it, tried to buy time with his own body so that perhaps a few might live.
Jesus did that too. He came to earth as a light shining in the darkness, knowing he wouldn’t be able to save all of humanity. But he shined as light so some would see and follow Him. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).”
My response to darkness.
As the song says, I need to “run to the darkness” and allow my life to reflect God’s love to those looking for a light of hope so that, perhaps, a few may follow me to the Light.
How can you shine more brightly?
Accentuate the positive.
This week, I’ve started to post positive questions on my Facebook page that invite people to think about the good and positive, and to thank God for what we have. I’m determined to shine the light of God’s goodness on Facebook, especially in a time where Facebook has come under fire for censoring certain groups of people for their beliefs. Will you join me? Let’s flood Facebook with the good and beautiful, pushing the line of what Facebook will allow us to say.
Choose to talk about uplifting topics, whether in a group of your friends or strangers at the grocery store. Make your conversation about others. Listen respectfully. Have the courage to admit when you are wrong, even when it is to someone who doesn’t believe as you do. Think Hebrews 13;3.
When you determine to not get sucked into immoral choices, gossip, negative talk, anger, or vengeance, you are shining your light. You are standing out as different from everyone else. As Christ followers, we shine most brightly when we refuse to hold grudges, or take offense. Others will notice when we choose to forgive instead.
But our lights dim when we start to bicker and complain about those who have hurt us. We especially snuff out our light when we squabble with each other within the church. Believe me, many stand on the sidelines, shaking their heads at our lack of unity.
Let’s determine to love those around us so sincerely and unconditionally that the world can’t help but notice. Instead of noting how “the other side” is so hateful, let’s look to ourselves, making sure we are acting with the greatest of love.
Create pockets of compassion and kindness.
A missionary friend spoke of increased violence and crime in her country of Ghana, connecting the COVID-shutdown with the unrest. We can minimize violence, both street and domestic, by reaching out to those impacted by the pandemic shutdown.
- Take a bowl of individually wrapped candy to the staff of your local school.
- Take a bowl of assorted individually wrapped snacks to your local police department, fire station, nursing home, or college campus dorm. Leave a note, telling them you are praying for them.
- It’s been a few months, but are there still families without jobs? Take a load of groceries to them. Include a few items that have been in short supply.
- Phone a shut-in. They would love to hear your voice.
- Write a note or have your kids write thank you letters to your local medical team, firefighters, or favorite restaurant staff. Tell them thank you for working so hard for you.
- Choose a young family with kids whom you sense are struggling to keep their priorities straight. Commit to pray for them every day and text or message a parent several times that week, checking in on how they are doing.
And if you are really brave, take a bowl of that candy to a crowd of protesters. Walk toward the other side and show the love of Jesus.
“Arise, shine, for your Light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”Isaiah 60:1-2 NIV
May God give me and you courage to run to the darkness so the light of Jesus will turn darkness into light!
How have you seen someone make a difference during this troubled time? Tell us about it in the comments below.