Fight your darkness, not theirs

During our town’s Fourth of July parade, a bunch of Donald Trump supporters marched by.

Don’t take their candy,” I hissed to my kids.

Their looks said, “Wow, mom. Really? That’s not very nice!” And they were right. I was humbled by my spontaneous outburst.

This week, I am sharing a guest post by my longtime friend, coworker, and pastor, David Davies, on a question important to most of these days: How do we fight the darkness?

[A]s a follower of Jesus Christ I cannot yield to my desire to hate the haters or to destroy the destroyers.

In the last few months it has been weekly and at times daily: another police shooting, another terrorist attack, another mass killing. We live in violent, broken times. Jesus told us these days were coming. A friend asked, “How can I move forward in times like these?” It is a fair and thoughtful question as one grapples with the increasing wickedness and disregard for life and humanity.

The only answer I know to these violent and tragic times lies in the person and teachings of Jesus. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” These ideas are contrary to human desire and disposition. Our desire is to fix and to punish. Yet human depravity is beyond our ability to solve or legislate. There will always be people that are consumed by hatred, fear, bigotry, and prejudice. We are in danger of being victims of these acts. Not probably directly, but internally.

Our danger is becoming consumed in the very same way towards those who are that way. When I read or hear of another killer taking out their hatred on innocent people, my heart is at risk. But as a follower of Jesus Christ I cannot yield to my desire to hate the haters or to destroy the destroyers. If I do, that hatred will grow in me and push out my love. In nature, light and darkness cannot coexist. If I allow darkness to settle in me, I must convince myself that some darkness is okay, even necessary, to respond to the great evils of our time. If I do convince myself, I fool myself into believing that I can manage the darkness. But I cannot. Once allowed, the darkness spreads. It spreads in my heart and in my community. I feel justified and righteous in my darkness. I believe my darkness can help me and my community overcome the other darkness. But there is only one darkness, with lots of room inside. I believe my darkness is different, but it is not. I think mine has power for good, but it does not. When tragedies happen they bring darkness with them. The news, social media, politics, and most conversations expand that darkness, and encourage me to join. After each event of human-caused tragedy I must do the interior work to return to the light. I must refuse to allow the darkness to extinguish my hope. I must refuse to allow the darkness to extinguish my faith. I must choose the way of love, the way of Jesus. If I do not I have unwittingly joined the vast expanse that is the darkness.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” If I allow my anger, outrage, and fear to consume me, I have lost my love, and I risk bringing darkness to the hearts of others as long as I stay in these places.

So how do I move forward in these times? I look for the light in the darkness. I make sure that to the best of my ability I have kept darkness from seeping into my heart, my eyes, and my mind. Until I have accomplished this I don’t move at all, because I risk spreading my darkness. Jesus said that “due to the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold.” I believe that is happening. People’s love is growing cold. For my part I cannot fight the wickedness; I can only fight it out of me and contend for love. I can seek reconciliation. I can speak truth and hope. Anything else increases the darkness.

I must refuse to allow the darkness to extinguish my hope. I must refuse to allow the darkness to extinguish my faith. I must choose the way of love, the way of Jesus.

Psalm 27:13 says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” This is where our hope is. God’s goodness will manifest in these dark times. Jesus is the light of the world, and so are we. We cannot allow darkness to put out our light. It takes work and personal honesty to guard our hearts and stay in the light.


 

 

My thanks to Dave for allowing me to publish this post. May all of us choose the way of love: the way of Jesus.

 

photo credit: 4028mdk09 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7875457
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