A Fresh View of Darkness & Light


In the opening of John’s Gospel we are given an image that I’ve always been drawn toward. The reason behind that draw grows and shifts as I grow older and encounter the Gospel in new and powerful ways.

When I read the part about the Light that the Darkness cannot overcome, I imagine a tiny flickering candle in a big dark room. The flame, shying in comparison to the darkness, pierces through the entire room and is immediately noticeable by all. It’s a powerful image. It’s an inspiring image. Unlike the “Big-ness of God’s Kingdom” message, it’s a sobering image. It’s an image that reminds us that God’s Kingdom is not a military style Kingdom that will remove the darkness by force, but instead it is a Kingdom that lightly flickers in the midst of incredible darkness. The miracle is that the darkness, seemingly more powerful in nearly every way, can’t overcome the tiny flame.

I have always understood this imagery to be referring to Jesus being the Light of the World, but I noticed something subtle in the reading of this passage this time around. The Light that the darkness does not overcome is said to be the “Life” within Christ, which is said to be the “Light of all People”.

What if we look a little deeper at this idea that the “Light” is all of Humanity’s Light rather than a Light only found in Jesus? Perhaps Jesus, the Light of the World, is mirroring back to us that which has always been there, but we have lost sight of–the Image of God within us. Maybe that Image within us is the very Light that cannot be overcome by the darkness within us!

I wonder how we might see ourselves and others differently if we actually believed what John says about that Light. What if we actually believed that the tiny flickering Light at the center of our existence is always going to be able to pierce the darkness that often clouds our vision?

At Joshua Station–and I suspect in every other corner of our world–this can feel like a feel good fairy-tale meant to help us “reach for the stars”. But I am feeling the invitation to see it as a deep and fundamental spiritual truth. A truth that truly does have the ability to set us free; free from the darkness that others might see when they look at us; free from the darkness we feel when shame creeps in; free from the fear and hatred we might feel when we look at the “other”.

The darkness in our world, and within each of us, is powerful and dense. But the Gospel reminds us that it is just weak enough that no matter how heavy it gets, it will never successfully extinguish that tiny flickering Light inside of us. Now that feels like a bit of Good News! It seems that the writer of the Spiritual “This Little Light of Mine” grasped this deep truth when they wrote the words:

I’m not going to make it shine
I’m just going to let it shine
I’m not going to make it shine
I’m just going to let it shine

This post is the most recent 8th & Wyandot update. To find it, as well as the entire 8th & Wyandot archive, Click Here.

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