Posted by: Dan | September 19, 2004

Darkness and Light

You see, it breaks down like this:

The church looks out on the world and sees a mass of people who are blind. The blind leading the blind to their own destruction. And so, remembering her call to be a light in the darkness, she wades in proclaiming, “I have found the light, I am the light! Follow me!” Some of the blind hear and disbelieve because all they've ever known is darkness and they have no frame of reference for light. But others hear and want there to be something more. And so they follow. But they're blind. It's hard to follow a light you can't see. Relationships breaks down. The blind wander off, the church gets frustrated and jumps from one to the next. “No, just trust me,” she cries in desperation, “I really am the light.”

Before long everything is a mess.

This is the problem, the church is claiming to be a source of light and asking people to follow her… but she's not bringing people out of darkness. She says she's the light, but everybody is still just as blind as they were before they heard her summons.

Instead of trying to lead the blind the church needs to give sight to the blind. Understand the difference? It's monumental.

The problem only gets deeper when we realize that if the church has not broken through the darkness of the world around it, maybe she's not actually a source of light. After all, when light comes into contact with darkness it can't help but illuminate it. That's just the way light works. You can't bring light into darkness and have the darkness remain. Maybe the church is blind as well and only thinks that her darkness is light. Having never seen the real light she mistakes her version of darkness for something it is not. And the blind lead the blind to their own destruction.

Jesus said he was the light of the world and restored sight to the blind. Somewhere along the way the church has lost this. And I, I'm looking for it like a blind man groping for the colour. Only not entirely. More like a person in a deep, deep hole, who every now and again has seen a shaft of sunlight break in. I've seen something. I know the light is there, and as I scale the walls of this pit I see more and more all the time. The grey of the mud and rock giving way to browns and greens and blues and whites. What I don't know is how to help others to see, how to become the light and not just observe it.

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Responses

  1. Who is “the church?”

  2. Who do you think is the church being described here?

  3. Apparently “the church” in this post refers to Christians that are not being an effective light to the world. You also identify yourself as sharing in the problem, if only in part.

    So is it just one part of the church body, but since it’s one body then we all share this problem?

  4. That’s a good question: is it only one part of the church that is ineffective or is it that we are all a part of this problem since we are one body?

    What do you think?

  5. It’s not just a good question. It’s a hard question. I don’t want to be identified with what most people consider to be your standard “Evengelical Christian”, and I’m not very eager to be associated with a church/religion that has such a horrific history of atrocities throughout the centuries. However, the difficulty is, (from what I understand from the English translations of the Bible), the church is referred to as the “body of Christ” in a singular sense, not as multiple bodies doing God’s work in whatever way they see fit. In addition, Christ is referred to as the head of the body, and it seems clear that a single head could not funcion very effectively if it is attached to more than one body, just as the body cannot function without a head. Thus, I can sense your urgency in getting the church as a whole on the right track and working towards common goals, rather than saying, “Well, they’ve got it wrong, but I’ll just go and do the best I can in the way I think is right.”. So as I work out my thoughts on the keyboard here and think about the issue as a whole, perhaps the difficulty is not after all in figuring out the correct answer to this question, but in accepting that we have to work together with the people who call themselves Christians; and if we really do believe that the church is walking in darkness, figuring out what has caused their blindness, how to help them realize that what they think is light is actually darkness, and how to introduce them to the light. I want the answers to these questions by next weekend, POP. It’s only fair. I’ve answered this one for you.

  6. Well said, Squash.

  7. I was just reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 this morning which specifically deals with this question and everything that Squash just mentioned. God’s so smart, even if I’m not.

  8. You are helping me to see and (I hope) to become light as well.

    Your journals have given me some clarity. Your life has given me a whole lot of clarity. Something clicked for me the other day and I hope it is okay that I write it here.

    I was concerned about you because of the “bag of rocks” that you carry. I was confused about this bag of rocks. Why doesn’t he release the bag of rocks? What is he holding onto? I thought that something must not be right with you. I was wrong. Now I see. It is in your suffering and suffering with people, and in your pain that I see the glory of the Lord in you. It actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this. It’s your bag of rocks. It’s a cross that you are carrying. And carrying a cross brings pain and suffering, but it also brings resurrection!!! And the astounding thing to me – this blows my mind – is that you’ve got your cross on your shoulders and you’re leaning down to help me pick up mine and others pick theirs up too!

    So I see the light too. The light I see is in your face. It is in your character and who you are and how you live.

    2 Corinthians 3:12-18: “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

    Thanks Dan.

  9. Thanks Jude.

    I don’t know if kinder words have ever been spoken to me.

    You deserve a lot of credit for why I am who I am today, and if I am even close to as good as you say, then I know that a lot of the credit is due to the way in which you inspired me in hard times.

    It’s sort of funny how in beautiful relationships both parties end up feeling humbled and grateful. That’s says something about a genuine love that has lost its pretensions and just opened itself up to the other.

    Love you brother.
    Dan

  10. The Brothers Oudshorn are cool. Your faith in God and relationship with one another is pretty inspiring.


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