Friday, July 15, 2016

Get lit!: Curing the world’s heart of darkness by starting with our own

Yet another shocking terror attack bleeds out from our TVs and social media newsfeeds and our hearts break. We shake our lowered heads, stifling tears, stuffing fears, mumbling to one another, “I just don’t know. I just don’t know.”

From the incessantly breaking news, the numbers from Nice tick up, just as they always do when these things happen. 20. 50. 80. Maybe more. We can barely breathe.

Facebook chatter erupts with laments about how violent the world “out there” has become. How dark some days are. How evil those evil terrorists doing evil must be.

We debate the best means to keep the evil “out there” from coming here.

But then the ever-seeing eye of the news shifts to our shores. A mass shooting in Florida, or is it California? A sniper on an apparent random serial killing spree in Arizona. Police killing unarmed men in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Michigan. People shooting at police in Texas and Baltimore.

The “out there” keeps creeping closer to our own doors.

In Philly, it seems nearly every week there’s another report of some innocent human being killed in a hit and run on the streets. Either that or a shooting. Or was that in Cleveland, or perhaps Chicago?

We mourn, we lament, we blame and point our fingers toward the violence “out there.” All those evil people. “Why do they have to be so ugly and violent?,” we wonder out loud to our friends. “Why do they hate us?”

Then the always-roving lens of the news shifts yet again.

Road rage is the focus now. On the evening blues, we learn that more than 50% of traffic fatalities result from road rage with more than 80% of all drivers admitting to aggressive driving. If 80% are willing to admit to this, then we know the remaining 20% of us are merely keeping mum.

We tailgate, cut-off, pass on the right, make obscene gestures to, get apoplectic at, and honk in impatient anger at those “other” cars “out there.” The ones in our way, the ones annoying us. We rage and fume at them all.

Anger is the new addiction.

Pumping up the angry and then venting it is our nation’s pastime. It’s cheap, readily available, and there are innumerable ways to steam up and blow out. We laugh self-righteously at others doing it. We boil when we’re doing it.

In our angry-red heads we think we’re merely aiming our rage toward the “out there” where all that scary anonymous evil exists.

The reality is, the “out there” is not necessarily anonymous, especially as it gets closer and closer to us. Like that road rage thing.

And then there’s Facebook, Twitter, and the comments sections of online news. The violence is rampant. Words, we too often forget, can be spirit-killing weapons as formidable as guns aimed at flesh and blood.

Still, in between our own rantings, we wonder what can be done. How can we stop the madness?

How can just one little angry person battle against a world full of evil and darkness?

I suggest we start by acknowledging, “[Our] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick...” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). That’s my heart, your heart, every heart.

It should be glaringly obvious that we live in a broken world. Things are not as they were meant to be. It all started so Edenic, and then sin happened, and now this, where we are today.

The cure is Christ. Yes, just as the graffiti says, Jesus is the answer. He is the answer to healing our own heart of darkness, bringing light into our soul and life that makes us a “light unto the world.”

There’s only one way to be lit from the inside, and that’s to admit that the evil isn’t just “out there” but also in our own heart, confess Jesus as Lord, believe in Him, and be saved so the light can be inside us.

We’ve all heard the stories about how a single little candle can light up a huge dark room. The same is true with each of us. Especially as we who believe in THE Light of the World combine our energies to amplify the light against the world’s darkness.

We need to stoke up the light instead of pumping up the anger.

We are called take our stand “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16, ESV).

The world is a dark and terrible place, but it wasn’t always and won’t always be this way. In the meantime, as followers of Christ, we need to let our little lights shine, engaging in purposeful acts of kindness, sharing the love of Jesus in every way we can.

Why? Because we know, light wins.

What specific, tangible ways can you think of for shining more light into the world? What have you done? What have you seen others do? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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