Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Walking in the dark

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 John 2:3-29

TO CHEW ON: "But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes." 1 John 2:11

Our eyes are not well equipped to help us maneuver on our own in the dark. In darkness they no longer distinguish color. Our perception of depth and distance is altered. If we take away all light, our eyes are useless and we're as good as blind.

The Bible talks in many places about walking in darkness in a metaphorical way.

  • Jesus calls it having bad eyes (Matthew 6:22-23). He is talking about how we view life. We might call it worldview.
  • Jesus also talks about the Pharisees having an entrenched blindness that refuses to see life any other way than through their legalistic lens (Matthew 15:14; 23:19).
  • Paul refers to the refusal to believe in Jesus and His finished work for us as blindness of mind and heart that is lifted as a result of believing ("Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" - 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
  • The "god of this age" (Satan) can blind our minds to keep us from understanding and believing God's plan through Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
  • Paul characterizes this darkness as a downward spiral that leads to an ever-increasing corruption of understanding and lifestyle (Romans 1:21,24-32; Ephesians 4:18,19).
  • And then we have our focus verse that reveals another aspect of walking in darkness: hating our brother. Really? we might ask. That's as dangerous as living in unbelief? As serious as having the legalistic, self-righteous worldview of the Pharisees? As hazardous as the determination to refuse to acknowledge God at all?

"Do not be blinded by the darkness of hatred," says a sidebar article on this passage in my Bible. "Understand that it will cause you to fall in your walk with the Lord. Turn away from hatred; ask for forgiveness for any hate in your heart. Ask God to heal you and enable you to forgive, knowing that Jesus paid the price for the wrong people have done" - Leslyn Musch, Truth-In-Action-Through 1 John, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1791 (emphasis added).

Forgiveness. Is that the switch that turns on the light from living in the darkness of hatred?

PRAYER: Dear God, I am not free from dislike, resentment, even hatred. Please show me where I am walking in such darkness. Help me to forgive and release anyone who has wronged me. Amen.

MORE: Shades of hatred

Would we recognize hatred in ourselves more readily if we acknowledged its subtle shades, its gradual growth in us from feelings of irritation, to dislike, to extreme animosity?

I was struck by this quote in Henri Nouwen's little book With Burning Hearts:
"I wonder how I would live if there were no resentment at all in my heart. I am so used to talking about people I do not like, to harboring memories about events that gave me much pain, or to acting with suspicion and fear that I do not know how it would be if there were nothing to complain about and nobody to gripe about! My heart still has many corners that hide my resentments and I wonder if I really want to be without them. What would I do without these resentments? And there are many moments in life in which I have the opportunity to nurture them. Before breakfast I have already had many feelings of suspicion, jealousy, many thoughts about people I prefer to avoid, and many little plans to live my day in a guarded way" - Henri Nouwen, With Burning Hearts, pp. 32,33.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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