darkness

The Light Shineth in Darkness…. (John 1:5)

The presence of light always nullifies the existence of darkness. Darkness does not flee from light. It dissipates when it encounters light. The more intense the darkness, the brighter the light shines.

After The Fall of man, darkness descended on a once pristine planet in the form of sin, moral chaos, and death. All facets of creation were marred by this cataclysmic event. Greed, pride, jealousy and selfishness converged in the human heart and widened the dark chasm between Creator and creation. The quest for knowledge became self-seeking and twisted. J.H. Newman aptly describes the scenario that ensued after The Fall, “…the greatness and littleness  of man…his short duration, the curtain  hung  over  his  futurity;  the  disappointments  of  life,  the  defeat  of  good,  the  success  of  evil, physical pain,  mental  anguish, the  prevalence  and  intensity  of sin, the  pervading  idolatries, the  dreary  hopeless  irreligion; that  condition  of  the whole race, so fearfully  yet so exactly described in the Apostle’s words, ‘having no  hope  and  without  God  in  the  world,’  all this  is  a  vision  to  dizzy  and  appal;  and  inflicts  upon the  mind the  sense  of a profound  mystery, which is  absolutely  beyond human solution….this living society of men…is out of joint with the purposes of its Creator.”1

The ubiquitous effect of The Fall permeated everything God had created, and grotesquely disfigured and distorted it. Sin did not only corrupt Adam. It spread to all his descendants, gaining momentum and intensity with each succeeding generation. The dark night of sin seemed unrestrained under the direction of Satan and his emissaries. The sacredness of human life began to wane starting with Cain who committed homicide against his own little brother with impudence. The trend to trivialize human lie has continued, alarmingly. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) claims that in 2012 alone 437,000 people lost their lives as a consequence of intentional homicide!1 Other vices were unleashed on our planet as soon as Adam relinquished his authority and handed it over to Satan. People began to rebel against the authority of God and chose to be their own gods. Since then mankind has continued to attempt to determine his own future; trying to find significance and to make a name for himself apart from God. The tower of Babel was the first and prime example of man’s attempt to create a name for himself without God. Many other towers of Babel have been erected in one way or another since then claiming millions of lives in their wake. Unified rebellion against anything to do with God has exploded in most academic institutions under the guise of intellectual enlightenment. Stephen Weinberg, a Nobel laureate, said in 2007 in his address at a conference titled “Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival” during which they attacked religion that “Religion is an insult to human dignity.  With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”2 It is true that some people and organizations have, historically, committed crimes against humanity in the name of religion. But true Christians know that using violence to proselytize is at variance with the teachings of the Founder of their faith. Violence is never a core principle of Christianity. Jesus scolded Peter for cutting off a man’s ear although he was attempting to defend Him on the eve of His arrest.

But Weinberg should know that evil has never been limited to religious people and institutions alone. Obviously, Weinberg has never heard of people like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot (among many others) who were architects of incredibly appalling carnages and genocides, but had nothing to do with religion. These are the consequences of sin manifesting themselves in myriad ways. The quest for autonomy and power is fast becoming the foundation for the self-defeating denial of the Creator God, and the enthronement of the self. Instead of seeking to know God, mankind has embraced a strange proclivity toward self-worship and self-exultation. This can be true for believers and non-believers alike. No one is insulated from the darkness of sinful desires and actions. That is why God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a once -and-for-all Cosmic Remedy for this pervasive spiritual malady in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Light that shineth forever.

Jesus, the Light of the world, is the divine panacea for this psychic and sarcous malaise of mankind-all of mankind. In Him we do not only see God. We see mankind as he was intended to be. Jesus has fittingly become our future history. He came to offer discontinuity to man’s self-destructive gravitation toward darkness and sin. Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness of our sin-sick souls so that we can be sensitized to seek reconciliation with God and have access to a new birth with new desires, new life, new aspirations, and newness of spirit. He came to counter the aggressive dark force that has set itself against the knowledge of God and all He stands for. Jesus towers over all history as the prism revealing God’s attributes, His love for all mankind, and His power over sin. He is the Restorer of all that has been damaged by the dark night of sin.  The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus are not only transformative to the believer. They give the believer victory over the kingdom of Satan now. They are also God’s promise of complete eschatological annihilation and eradication of all that is related to darkness and sin. Jesus was so acutely aware of the implications of His sacrifice and resurrection and ascension that, at the end of His ministry, He triumphantly declared, now “the prince of this world is judged,” (John 16:11). Satan was defanged by Jesus’ finished work. Sin can no longer have dominion on believers who abide in Christ. Light shineth continuously from Jesus, offering pardon and reconciliation with our heavenly Father (Colossians 1:20). But this Light is a gift that can only be effective if it is accepted. It is never forced on anyone.

 

References

1.United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2016). Some 437,000 people murdered worldwide in 2012, according to new UNODC study. Accessed from http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/press/releases/2014/April/some-437000-people-murdered-worldwide-in-2012-according-to-new-unodc-study.html

2.Berlinski, D. (2008). The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions. Crown Forum, New York. pp.21

 

 

Musings on John 3:2

The account of Nicodemus’ nocturnal visit to the Lord Jesus and the ensuing discourse is fascinating, to say the least. Nicodemus starts by saluting Jesus using a normative greeting reserved for individuals with ecclesiastical eminence: “Rabbi,” he calls him, which means master of the Torah. He further acknowledges that Jesus is a teacher sent from God, and the miracles He performs are evidence that God is with Him. He uses the first person plural to indicate that he is not the only one who believes what he just said. Apparently, his peers are of the same opinion as well. Maybe also implied in Nicodemus’ greeting is a hint of flattery. Probably that is why Jesus ignores it. The miracles Nicodemus and his cohorts saw with their own eyes were what convinced them that God was with Jesus. This is the epitome of walking by sight. If they had not seen they would not have believed. The Scriptures exhort us to “Walk by faith, not by sight…” for a reason. Our physical eyesight is blind to spiritual events. Nicodemus was already demonstrating his blindness regarding Jesus’ identity. Although he viewed Jesus as having been sent from God, he did not notice His divinity. Walking by sight is being shackled by illusions, which leads to a myopic interpretation of the things of the kingdom of God. Nicodemus visited Jesus at night probably for fear of being spotted hanging out with him by his fellow Pharisees. If this inference is right, then we can deduce that it was more important for Nicodemus to be held in high esteem and to receive accolades he never really had from the community that derided Jesus than to seek truth for himself. Jesus said, regarding Pharisees: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29 NKJV). Jesus viewed their spiritual leadership as a façade that did nothing to benefit them. Sadly, this illusion had become their reality and led them not only to reject Jesus, but to also orchestrate His death at the hands of an imperial power that despised them. No wonder Jesus said, “If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23). Things are never the way they appear, particularly the things of the spirit. The laws of the Kingdom of God are inversely related to the laws of the natural realm. Great men in God’s kingdom are beaten, spat upon, despised, have nowhere to lay their heads, and are ultimately executed and martyred for their faith. In this realm, the way upwards leads downwards. Those who desire to lead must first learn to follow in obedience. If they smack you on one side, you tell them to do it again-this time on the other side. In the natural, this sounds absurd, but this is a spiritual battle against evil spiritual forces. This is the only way to de-fang Satan-The Jesus way and it never fails. Nicodemus had it all wrong. Jesus was not just a teacher sent from God. He is God.

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The Ramifications of “Killing God”

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher, a son of a Lutheran minister. His father died when he was five years old. Probably the loss of a father at such a tender age is what led him to detest religion with an unbridled fervor.
Among his literary works is the controversial parable known as the Parable of Zarathustra. In this parable, Nietzsche wrote about a momentous, cosmic catastrophe, the “death of God.”1 A mad man (probably symbolic of Nietzsche himself) announces the “death of God” to a jeering crowd of skeptics gathered in a market place for no apparent reason. The mad man proclaims hysterically, “God is dead…we have killed him.” Of course, that is impossible in the literal sense, for God is self-existent and uncaused. He is the only One whose reason for his existence lies within himself. What Nietzsche was doing here was heralding nihilism, which rejects religion and moral principles. By rejecting them, Nietzsche understood that he was rejecting their Source.
But the ramifications of having “killed God” are not lost on Nietzsche: “How can we the murderers of all murderers comfort ourselves? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now?” The magnitude of his pronouncement had the potential to unhinge the very order of life on earth, rendering everything meaningless. With the “death of God” comes the erosion of all values and morals, and the introduction of anarchy and lawlessness and unprecedented violence. Using metaphors and similes, Nietzsche admitted that nihilism could be calamitous as mankind would attempt to become his own god: “Do we not ourselves have to become gods…?” The repercussions of assuming such a morally autonomous position would result in a ghastly a debacle. Although the parable is presented in a pendulous and ambivalent manner by being both liberating and disastrous, the bottom line is that this kind of worldview would inevitably usher in an era in which the relevance of the Moral Law would be questioned if not rejected. Everything would become permissible, to echo Dostoevsky. A few decades after Nietzsche came individuals such as Sigmund Freud and others who claimed that religion was nothing more than a basic infantile intellectual level, probably classified as being at the bottom rung of the evolutionary ladder.
At the heels of the birth of such a worldview, came the 20th century; so far regarded as the bloodiest and most violent century.2 Slowly, as mankind distanced himself from the dictates of the moral values, life began to lose its sacredness. This trend continues as we hear of people getting shot or maimed or stabbed or bludgeoned to death for the most trivial reasons. Mankind is, indeed, straying through “infinite nothing.” As belief in the moral values began to wane, a wave of darkness began to encroach upon humanity, true to Nietzsche’s prophetic pronouncements: “Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning?”
Nietzsche himself spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum and in the care of his family. He was silent most of the time. In his book, The Last Journey of Jack Lewis: A Conversation of C.S. Lewis with Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, Chang-Wuk Kang claims that “When he was in an insane asylum toward the end of his life [Nietzsche] recited Bible verses from time to time.” He was only 46 years old when he died in 1900.

Sources

1 Fordham University (n.d.). Modern History Sourcebook: Nietzsche: Parable of the Madman. Accessed from http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/nietzsche-madman.asp

2 Francis P. Sempa (2012). The Bloodiest Century. Accessed from http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2007/0103/book/book_sempa.html