It seems that every new year begins the same. January feels like a fresh start, the feeling and emotions of a new beginning.  Old things seem to be locked in the past and a new clean slate is set before us.  Hope, excitement, anticipation are the feelings and emotions that dominate the coming of the new year.

The flurry of Christmas, like a whirlwind, has come and gone and the new year allows us the opportunity to settled down. Perhaps now, in the new year, we have another chance to keep our new year’s resolutions.

The Gospel of John begins when everything was new. John, like Moses when he wrote the book of Genesis, begins with the creation itself.  John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).

This Word that John wrote about is the very manifestation of goodness and order. This Word is the very personification of the creative and dynamic power of God Himself. This Word brought all of creation into being, all things visible and invisible! As abstract as this language sounds, it helps us to grasp the fact that our world and our very lives have meaning and purpose. In other words, God created the world and all things; they just didn't come into existence.  Rather, all that is resulted from a Divine design as part of God’s plan.

Yet, something did happen to God's creation. Sin entered the created order. Darkness crept into God's world. The power of sin polluted and still seeks to destroy the goodness, the order, and the purpose of God’s Divine design. Darkness is John's word for evil in God's creation. John uses this word to describe the contrast between evil and the light, the goodness, that Christ brings into our world. This darkness is not described by John.  It just seems to come out of nowhere (verse 5) but despite the best efforts of the best minds, we don't know why evil exists or where it comes from. Even if we don't understand this darkness, we still recognize the reality of our existence in a fallen, sinful, wicked, and evil world.

John continues to illustrate this for us in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.  Note that it was at night, in the darkness, that Nicodemus came to Jesus.  Here, the darkness represents the power of doubt struggling to find faith. The encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus is summarized in these words penned by John's declaration, "the light has come into the world, and the people loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:19). Later in his account of the Gospel, John wrote about Judas Iscariot and he summarized the wickedness and evil unleashed the betrayal with the simple words, "And it was night" (John 13:30).

You and I also recognize the power of sin and darkness in the world today. We know of the many ways that evil corrupts. In our day, the power of evil in our world seeks to counterfeit what is godly. Our society calls that which is evil, good and that which is good, evil.

One day, a man and his family left home for an extended vacation.  Upon their return home, they found their refrigerator had broken and was not cooling. The freezer part of the appliance was full of bugs. The eggs embedded in the meat had hatched. That is very much like the evil of our world.  It is presence and it is only waiting for the right conditions to bring spoil, damage, and destruction.

We see the evil of creation in things that happen naturally. Tornados kill and destroy, as was recently seek in Kentucky. Millions have died from drought and famine. Babies battle cancer. Alzheimer's eats away at a person's mind. These are all part of the evil power that rules in darkness over a fallen creation.

We see the darkness of sin in society and politics. The bickering between parties leads to cynicism. As we move up the scale, we encounter the drug war, fueled by human weakness and spread by the callous indifference to human life. The darkness becomes nearly pitch black when we talk about terrorism and the genocides, and perhaps the most heinous of all, the murder of the unborn simply of convenience .

Yet, there is the message of hope!  John declares, "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:5). The light shines — present tense and darkness does not overcome it. The darkness has tried but it has failed. The Greek word for "overcome" can also mean, "understand." The darkness has intelligence; it plots strategy, it actively opposes God but it failed in its attempt to put out the light.

The light, that John wrote about is, of course, the light of God's goodness, intentions, love, mercy, and grace. In other words, John is saying to you and me today, in spite of the darkness the light is victorious!  God's light continues to shine. That is a statement of faith that brings hope to hopeless.

Consider this question: What will the New Year hold for you? Will our old baggage and problems follow us into January? Or, will a new optimism fueled by the power of “the True Light” that is, the light of Christ, empower us in 2022?

I don't know what this new year will be like. Yet, I do know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that we who call upon the name of the Lord, will experience His love, mercy, and grace that is stronger than the pain and frustration of this present darkness.

Therefore, let us enter into 2022 as we hold on to “the light of the world” and embrace the hope that is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savoiur and Lord. Thanks be to God!

The True Light of the World Shines in the Darkness!

Pastor’s Article – January 2022

 

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