And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:19-21)
How I Hated That Light
In the last week I had two conflicts with two of the three people I love more than anyone on the planet. In the first conflict someone shed light on a certain situation in my home. And how did I react to that light do you suppose? This is what went through my mind, “Nobody is going to tell me what to do in my own house!”
In the second conflict someone shed light on a certain aspect of my communication. And how do you suppose I responded to that light? You guessed right. I thought to myself (in a loud voice), “Nobody is going to tell me how I should communicate!”
Loving Darkness (And Confusing Pride With Principle)
I’m embarrassed to say, in both instances I loved the darkness rather than the light, because my works were evil! I hated that these two people who love me, out of concern for my own welfare, shed light on my behavior. How I hated that light!!! It was horrible. It made my pride well up inside me. It made the part of me rise up that says: “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” You know what though? In my head I was standing on principle. As can happen so easily to any of us, I confused pride with principle. (For more on the problem of confusing pride with principle see Love Like Jesus–Grace and Truth) But the truth was that I loved the darkness rather than the light because in the darkness, the dark waters of my wrong behavior could remain undisturbed. But when the light came into my world it stirred the depths.
And it’s not just me, if you’re honest you’ll admit that it’s you too. In reality it’s all of us. All of us are prone to love the darkness. Every one of us sometimes prefers to leave those dark waters undisturbed, so we avoid the light. And the thing is, there’s no greater light than Jesus. He’s like the 100 trillion lumen light. No, he’s even brighter than that. He’s brighter than the sun. When you go deep into who he is, his perfection, and grace, and truth, and love illuminate everything. When you let him in, there’s nowhere to hide.
As Samuel Davies put it in his address at Princeton: “The light of conviction is a painful blaze to a guilty eye! So you wrap yourselves in darkness, lest it should break in upon you!”
So some of us who believe try to forget him, at least for awhile, so we can let our pride remain unrestrained, as I did when the light was shed on my wrong behavior. It’s a temporary malady however and eventually his love compels us to come back to his light, and to change our heart and our direction. (I apologized in both instances.)
Others will reject him entirely, so they can remain in the familiar, comfortable, undisturbed dark waters without interruption.
In the end, as John wrote in his gospel, in the Light of men is where life is found, eternal life. So the only thing that makes sense is to surrender your pride. The only thing that makes sense is to surrender your entire life, including that part of you that says, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” So do it. Surrender your life. Surrender your life, wholly, and completely. And enter into the Light of men, where there is light, and life.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
Samuel Davies’s quote in context, from his speech delivered to Princeton University: “You set yourselves upon an attempt which is very preposterous and absurd in a rational being, and that is, Not to think. When the ill-boding surmise rises within, “All is not well with my soul! I am not prepared for the eternal world! If I should die in this condition, I am undone forever!” When conscience thus whispers your doom, it may make you sad and pensive for a minute or two—but you soon forget it; you designedly labor to cast it out of your thoughts, and to recover your former stupid serenity. The light of conviction is a painful blaze to a guilty eye! So you wrap yourselves up in darkness, lest it should break in upon you!
“When your thoughts are likely to fix upon this painful subject, do you not labor to divert them into another channel? You immerse yourselves in business, you mingle in company, you indulge and nourish a thoughtless levity of mind, you break out of retirement into the wide world—that theater of folly, trifling, and dissipation! And all this to scatter the gloom of conviction which hangs over your ill-boding minds, and silence the clamors of an exasperated conscience! You laugh, or talk, or work, or study away these fits of seriousness! You endeavor to prejudice yourselves against them, by giving them ill names such as fanaticism, narrow-mindedness, and I know not what! Whereas they are indeed—the honest struggles of an oppressed conscience to obtain a fair hearing, and give you faithful warning of approaching ruin! They are the benevolent efforts of the Spirit of grace to save a lost soul. And O! it would be happy for you if you had yielded to them, and nourished the serious hour!”
References and Resources:
Samuel Davies, The Rejection of Gospel-light, the Condemnation of Men, (delivered at Princeton College)
[Image by NASA via Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons]