“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” –Ephesians 5:11-14
I love how easy that sounds to defeat darkness. It simply needs to be exposed to the light. In the presence of light, darkness cannot exist. But doesn’t it feel a lot harder to overcome sin and darkness in our lives and in the world? Doesn’t that seem too simple?
The Pain of the Light
The struggle to overcome darkness isn’t a reflection of the power or availability of the light. Rather it is a reflection of our fear of the light. Our fear of letting our sin and shame be exposed by the light of Christ. Our shame of realizing the darkness that exists in our lives and the fear of our brokenness being revealed.
Those of us who are Christ followers do live in his light, but what areas of our lives do we still keep dark and closed off to his power, love, forgiveness, and redemption? We may embrace and love the truth that we can trust in the Lord always, but then when it comes to trusting God in times of loneliness, times when work and school seem too hard to handle, or when we have difficult people in our lives, in those times it becomes easy to want to take control and not trust God. We try to justify our desire to take control. “I know what’s best for me better than you do, God” or “You don’t understand how painful it is, so I need to take control to avoid more pain.”
Ironically after writing that paragraph while I was taking a short break I was worrying about what to write next and how to finish up this post. Even as I write about trusting God I find myself struggling to trust God and let his truth shine in the darkness of my pride as I want to take control. I find it hard to trust the Creator of language itself, the God who demonstrated his love for me and others who might read this. Part of me wants to believe that I don’t need to totally depend on him and that I can write a meaningful post without his help.
From Darkness to Light: The Allegory of the Cave
In The Allegory of the Cave Plato imagines a situation where prisoners have been chained in the darkness of a cave their whole life. He supposes, even given the freedom to leave the cave, the prisoners would rather stay in the cave where their eyes can comfortably see rather than going out of the cave into the blinding light. Plato supposes one would only venture out if he was pulled out. Plato writes:
“..would not the one who had been dragged like this feel, in the process, pain and rage? And when he got into the sunlight, wouldn't his eyes be filled with the glare, and wouldn't he thus be unable to see any of the things that are now revealed to him as the unhidden?... It would obviously take some time getting accustomed to, I think, if it should be a matter of taking into one's eyes that which is up there outside the cave, in the light of the sun.”
Often it takes God using a situation we wouldn’t have chosen to pull us out of our darkness and into the light. As we learn to live in the light everything at first seems more confusing and painful than it was in the darkness. We wonder why God would bring us out of our comfort into a painful and confusing place. But as we stay in the light and become accustomed to the light we begin to see things more clearly and more vibrantly than we ever have. We no longer desire to live in the darkness as we did before.
Living in the Light
If we pursue the light and truth of Christ it will be painful and confusing at times. It will at times feel tempting to flee from situations where the light of Christ is most present. It might feel tempting to downplay the importance of fellowship with believers, reading God’s Word, or serving others and instead choose something more comfortable and easy. It will feel easier at times to pretend that our lives are always great and perfect and we don’t have struggles, instead of exposing the areas of fear, shame, and brokenness to the healing, redeeming power of his light.
To live in the light means being misunderstood by those in darkness, who haven’t seen the light. It can mean rejection by those who are afraid of the light that shines through us who follow Christ. It can mean physical or emotional persecution by those people when their discomfort and anger become too great.
At the end of his story Plato supposes what would happen to the person who goes into the darkness of the cave to free the prisoners and show them the light. More than 350 years before Christ was born Plato writes:
“And if they can get hold of this person who takes it in hand to free them from their chains and to lead them up, and if they could kill him, will they not actually kill him?... They certainly will.”
About the Author
Esther graduated December 2017 with degrees in Music and Accounting from the University of Minnesota. She is currently working as an accounting temp for Robert Half. At First Free she loves volunteering with the nursery and youth group kids. In her free time she might be reading books, playing games, taking road trips, running, playing volleyball, being outside, or hanging out at coffee shops.