Summary: MLK Sunday: to work in the darkness, we need light, lots of it, but it may show us things we don’t want to know. The Bible is light for life; the church makes us see its truth in ways that claim us; and Christ leads us to a healthy integrity
If you are going to work in the darkness you need light. There is only so much you can do by feeling your way. You need light and lots of it.
Last Wednesday night as my wife and I left Montgomery Hills Church, I noticed some poor soul in the driveway of the house next door. He had the hood of his van open and was trying to perform some sort of mechanical fix, in the dark and in all that cold, using only a single flashlight. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have found him out there the next morning frozen in place, because one little flashlight powered by a couple of D-cells in sub-freezing weather is not going to serve you well. If you are going to mess about in the darkness, you need light, and plenty of it.
It gets deeper. Not only do we need light; sometimes we don’t even use the light we get. Light is available, but we ignore it. That same fellow was only six or eight yards from a pretty decent streetlamp. Only six or eight yards, and he would have had more light. But he struggled along with just one little light, even though another was very near at hand.
It gets even worse than that, this thing of trying to mess around in the darkness. There are times in which the light you get, even though you get plenty of it and you use it – there are times in which that light reveals things you don’t want to know. There are times when you are sorry you see what you see. I was watching a History Channel program on underground cities; it focused on the tunnels and passageways that underlie many places. The narrator had a good strong lamp, and of course the television cameraman following him had ample lighting. But as they turned a corner in a Roman catacomb, there in front of them was a hideous pile of human bones. Not a pretty sight! The narrator quickly turned off his lamp and then pushed aside the camera, saying, “I don’t think we want to see this, do we?” Plenty of light, but who wants to see images of death and decay? Sometimes light reveals things we do not want to see.
So then the issue about light becomes: not only do we need light; and not only do we not always use the light we get; but also even when we do get light and use it, we don’t want to see what it shows. And that leaves us with nothing but darkness. The darkness we choose. Make sure you understand that the darkness we choose is far more profound than the darkness that is imposed on us. The darkness we take on ourselves envelopes us and imprisons us far more than the darkness others put on us.
Let me open up the metaphor. How do you make decisions? What does it take to make good choices? If I am faced with a decision about my life, from where do I seek guidance? Do I just do what feels good at the moment? Some do. Just feed the tummy, that’s all. Or do I do what everybody around me seems to be doing? That too is very popular. We wouldn’t dream of having an original idea; it might take our breath away! So we just plod along, following the herd. When I think about how to live my life, I think about the light and darkness and remember that to make any decision I have to have some light. I have to have insight. To live as a person that is not just tossed about by every stormy wind that blows, I must have a plan for making decisions about my life. I must have light and not just darkness. So how do I get it?
Jesus has a pithy saying about this. It involves light and darkness and eyes, healthy eyes. Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.” He’s talking about spiritual sight impairment. He’s talking about the need to see and discern. It sounds like that darkness that we take on ourselves, that darkness that we choose and that is most profound, when He says. “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
I need light in order to make decisions. I need to use well the light I have and to look for more. I need to make sure I pay attention to what that light shows me. And above all, I need to be healthy. I need to be whole. I need that healthy eye in order to see the whole truth. Where, again, do I get all this?