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How Deep is Our Darkness?

01/11/2013

How Deep is our Darkness?

Last night was Halloween. As I left the house to go to the prayer meeting at church I was confronted with a family of two adults and three children, all dressed in costume, faces painted and bearing an assortment of chains and vials of ‘blood’. Even the baby was in some sort of costume. Presumably they were going to a Halloween party, like thousands of others across the country, and like millions worldwide. And like so many, they will teach their children about ‘ghosts’ and ‘ghouls’ and old Halloween traditions (to be fair, many of them, like pumpkins and ‘trick or treat’ imported from the USA) but they will never open a Bible or tell the children the story of redeeming grace for in general, they are two generations away from church-going, and Sunday school attending as a normal practice of life. Once again I asked myself the question, “How deep is the darkness of this present day?”

That there is spiritual darkness is both a scriptural position, and a practical reality. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul teaches the Corinthians about the blindness of those who are unbelievers. He writes, in verses 3-4, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

And that awful, dark blindness can be seen in the condition of the lost. Two grieving mourners at funerals will serve to illustrate the point.

One girl, in her late twenties was organising the Service of Thanksgiving for her late mother. Neither of them were or had been Christians. She was asking about the content of a graveside committal service. I told her that we would usually commence with a Scripture reading, perhaps the 23rd Psalm. She looked blank. What’s that?” She asked. What a difference from former generations. When I was at school in the 1960’s we learned the 23rd Psalm, the 10 Commandments and other Scripture passages by heart – the present young generation are secular to the core.

The other illustration is of a young mother who had lost her baby son, who died shortly after birth. I considered this an ideal opportunity to speak to her about the grace of God, to comfort her with the good news that through Christ’s death on the cross alone, she could have assurance that her little one was in Heaven, to trust the promise of the Saviour, who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven”. She looked totally blank; totally uncomprehending. When I finished she told me that she had written a poem for her child. It told of how (she imagined) she had seen a new star in the sky, and she knew it was him, and every night she would look up to the sky and see him, and he would be watching over her… In other words she rejected the truth of the gospel for the lie of popular superstition.

This spiritual darkness is endemic in our society, and it is a very deep darkness indeed. There is no human remedy for this. It is a spiritual darkness and it requires a spiritual solution. Paul reminds us of that in that passage in 2 Corinthians. In verse 6 he adds, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Only God himself can shine light into the deep darkness of the human heart. The One who created light out of darkness at creation can regenerate the heart, and bring new life and light into the world, through the conversion of sinners.

A prayer from the BCP:
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

From → Evangelism

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