The Light Shines In The Darkness (Advent Thoughts)
"The Light shines in the Darkness, and the Darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5) Advent Thoughts (Week 1)
There are many thoughts that run through my head when I think of this passage in the New Testament. My first thought is..."how do we know the difference between the Light and the Dark?" It's not always as black and white as we'd like it to be. And some things that we were taught to be "the darkness" actually aren't at all.
For me, it's Catholicism. I was taught those specific traditions and practices weren't even considered to be Christian, but I have found that (in practicing those traditions and prayers in my personal life) to be completely and utterly false. Now to be sure there are harmful things in this denomination that I don't agree with (as in EVERY religious group or Christian denomination), but that doesn't make it un-Christian.
However, we can't just decide what is Light and what is Darkness on our own, can we? Some would say so, but then that gets very messy very quickly and ultimately it's stated that "as long as it doesn't harm someone else then it's fine." And yet, I see the conflict there every day as what someone says is fine and not hurting anyone, another says is absolutely doing so. So we're just constantly landing in a place where we all eventually war over what is right and wrong.
Therefore, Light and Darkness must be defined outside of human interpretation and democratic agreement. The natural law of right or wrong cannot be created by people, it can only be discovered and lived out.
I think, for me at least, I get caught up in comfort. Meaning, if it's "good" or "right" then it must feel so. However, that's a dangerous path to take, because many people who chase after comfort or what makes them feel good can end up doing terrible things, which brings addiction or worse into the world. C.S. Lewis even had a quote about this,
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
I think a huge problem we are facing in society today regarding defining the Light and the Dark is that we have made a dogma out of morality instead of making morality out of dogma.
Of course, the real problem is many who have seen those profess a specific dogma have, in fact, been found not following the morality upon which that dogma insists. This is precisely the trouble the Christian church has found itself in throughout all of its histories. People have used the dogma for power and control instead of for justice and morality. But this doesn't mean the dogma is wrong, it simply means it was abused and caused harm to others in the process.
Therefore, as I come to a conclusion with this specific thought experiment, I must say that there is a solid light and darkness given to us by the dogma to which I have dedicated my life and personally believe to be the ultimate truth.
Love God, love people.
It's a simple, yet oh-so-complicated dogma. But again, C.S. Lewis comes to us in his book, "Mere Christianity" and explains just HOW one can utilize this dogma to act out what is Light and Dark.
"Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or any set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts. By the way, this point is of great practical consequence. The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials "for the sake of humanity," and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man."
So I come to the conclusion that Light and Dark or right and wrong aren't fluid things, but are in fact meant to be seen through a specific lens that would point to the dogma of Love God, love people. If what you are about to do or say to another human negates either one of these, then it is darkness. It's certainly NOT simple nor can we make this decision on our own and I think that's the point.
While morality isn't CREATED by people in community, it certainly must be lived out in community and not used as a means to gain power or control over another human. I think ultimately, Jesus showed us what real light looked like by dying for those who were killing him. Sacrificial love for others is always the foundation for what true light brings. And the darkness cannot overcome that.