Our entertainment industry has been excellent at fudging the lines between good and evil, leaving us with a lot of grey. Heroes are no longer just heroes, they are heroes with many faults. Villains are no longer villains, they are villains with tendencies toward good. No longer are we certain of absolute good and absolute evil, of black and white, of light and dark. People would say that it is only the entertainment industry but many of us know that society soon begins to reflect what we see on the big screen and television. This is dangerous because we fail to see why we need a Saviour, someone who would save us from our own destruction. We stop believing in a hell, thinking that if God is love he will over look our bad points and reward us for our good.
As Jesus ended his conversation with Nicodemus concerning the light he was bringing into the world as they stood there surround by the dark, he pointed out the contrasting difference to him. There is a huge difference between the understanding of the created and that of the Creator:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
This is the danger we are in right now, that this knowledge is being lost in the noise of this world. People actually think we can overcome this evil in us and bring peace to this world. We think we can find our own solutions and build our Babel towers. We think there is enough good in us that we can replace our need for God because we are not all bad. We are fooling ourselves about our natural condition. We must first acknowledge our condition, enslaved to evil as God defines evil, not as man defines it. John began this gospel with this acknowledgement:
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5)
The Apostle Paul described our condition:
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)
Paul is not being harsh here, only truthful. Take a look at our world. Wars are not fought over political differences but because of the selfishness of man. Crimes against individuals are not caused by some kind of social injustice but because individuals are selfish by nature; people thinking of themselves without considering what their actions will do to others. It is crazy for us to think we can overcome our own nature, the nature that became because of an act of disobedience way back at the beginning. It was born in rebellion and continues in rebellion to this day. We cannot help ourselves. This is why we need Jesus.
Jesus came as the light because only the light can reveal our ugliness to us. When we compare ourselves to Jesus and see what we were created to be, we can understand how our sin has distorted and twisted us so that we are barely recognizable to God. But Jesus came to reveal this so that we would understand how much help we needed. Then he showed us the solution, the way out and he became that way out for us. The problem is that our nature wants to prevent our escape:
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:20-21)
Jesus made it possible for us to step out of the darkness and into the light so that there can be a transformation, so that what we were would fall away and what God desires in us could be revealed. It can be painful at first as we look in the mirror and see just how ugly we had become, but Jesus quickly replaces that ugliness with the beauty of God's design. Once that happens we can no longer have anything to do with darkness as we remain in the light. Paul warned that this is a tough battle to surrender and step into the light:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
So the god of this age is working very hard to convince man that we are okay without God which means that we must be working that much harder to present Jesus so that the light would be seen. Only Jesus can save this world but the world needs to see Jesus in order to know there is a choice. We are the bearers of this light. He is revealed in our words and actions by the Holy Spirit working to convict hearts. But they must see the good in order to know there is a difference. They must see Jesus in our attitude and our actions, which means that we must walk closely with our Lord so that we become more like him. We have a mission and that mission is not to look after our own needs but to look after the needs of others. And what they need most is Jesus.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. (Ephesians 5:8-13)