I have struggled to make sense of the world today. And to choose words with which we could adequately describe the chaos and division that has characterized our nation is almost impossible. I could say heartbreaking, but that seems to be an understatement. I might label these days as gut wrenching, but that description pales in its attempt to encapsulate the emotions running through our hearts and minds as well.
I am blessed to have friends in many different countries throughout the world. Some of them have asked why all of these protests and riots are taking place in the U.S. What should I say to someone who might ask me what is the root cause of all this division? How could we explain generation upon generation of this widening chasm we stare into today? I am not sure if this word completely captures the mood of the moment or not, but my best attempt comes from Jesus himself: darkness.
This past week in our men’s Bible study here at the Y, we studied John 3:1-21. In the midst of that passage is probably the most quoted verse of Scripture, which reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But not too many verses later, Jesus says, “Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
Division and hatred toward one another didn’t just materialize in the last twenty years. It may seem like it, but the truth is, this is been a part of our world since the beginning of time. Every generation before us has carried the burden of broken race relations, disrespect of others, greed, and the list goes on. Does that make our generation exempt from reconciliation? No! By no means! We will stand accountable for how we, as Jesus commanded, “Loved our neighbor as ourselves.” And we’re just not doing a very good job of that today.
At the risk of sounding overly cliché, our hope for peace and reconciliation in today’s world is for us to start loving the Light instead of the darkness. True, we should bring into the light that which is broken. We should expose the injustice of those who have chosen to pursue darkness and hold them accountable for their actions. But we must stop at countering their evil with our own form of evil. The apostle Paul said it best when he penned the words, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Our world needs to see a dose of goodness, an overflowing of kindness, a people who will weep with those who are weeping, and a generation who will start living in harmony with one another (See Romans 12). And for this I earnestly pray.
We can do this! As God’s people, we possess the only hope for this generation and those who will follow in the next. And if we can’t get it right today, then the next generation will be that much further from the hope that the light of Jesus gives, that much deeper into the darkness. Today, let’s shine brighter than we did yesterday, but not as bright as we will tomorrow. Go ahead and shine!
“Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” –John 8:12