EMAIL THIS PAGE       PRINT       RSS      

Do We Live in a Dark World?

People who see the world as “dark” aren’t held in high regard. They are called curmudgeons, pessimists, even villains.

By contract, people who see the world in a positive light are considered optimistic. They’re the good guys.

Donald Trump’s speech at the close of the Republican National Convention was castigated by the opposition and the press as being “dark.” President Obama was so bothered by its tone that he felt compelled to reply the next day, “This idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse—this vision of violence and chaos everywhere—doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people.”

Taking politics out of this discussion (I know, that’s nearly impossible), this sunny statement by the president against the negative images conjured by Trump begs an important question, one that doesn’t concern only our time, but all of time, the way it’s always been, at least since the fall.

Okay, there I go, tipping my hand. By mentioning “the fall,” I am clearly one of those pessimistic people who believe humankind was tainted by an event triggered in real time by the rebellion of two real people—Adam and Eve—against a real God. And because of that rebellion, sin entered a sinless world, thereby corrupting the world and them and all their descendants, including us. 

Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Maybe that’s why so many people reject the idea of “original sin.” It’s such a dark concept. It’s much more fun to believe the world is a wonderful place filled with beautiful people who do the right thing most of the time, and on those rare occasions when they don’t, it’s because they’ve been corrupted from the outside.

Now, I’m not saying that Donald Trump believes in original sin and President Obama doesn’t. But listening to each of them explain a particular view of the world that stands in opposition to what the other one believes makes you wonder who is closer to the way things really are.

In fact, recent polling data shows that only six percent of the people in the United States believe the world is getting better. Even more distressing, 54 percent of people in countries where English is the predominant language think “our way of life” will end in the next 100 years.

That’s pretty dark.

Polls are fun, but they are fallible. Besides, why should we rely on what other people think of the world when we can go to the most reliable source for telling us the way things really are? Of course, I’m referring to the Bible, the story of God and us written by God for us. It’s the book of life that shows us how to have an everlasting life with God that starts now.

You would think that the Bible would be boundlessly optimistic, seeing as how it tells us how to get in God’s good graces. Actually, the Bible isn’t optimistic at all. Instead, it’s realistic…

About the condition of the world because of the fall (Romans 8:22)

About the sinfulness of all people (Romans 3:23)

About the presence of spiritual warfare in our world (Ephesians 6:10-17)

These three realities--commonly referred to as "the world, the flesh, and the devil"--are the sources of darkness. The world itself has been corrupted because of the fall, sinful people do bad things, and "the powers of this dark world" are at the root of much of the evil and suffering we see everyday.

So how do you have a realistic view of the world without descending into despair? What hope is there? That’s the beauty of it. Only those who buy into the Bible’s realistic view of the world have a shot at being hopeful.

At the graduation ceremonies of Biola University earlier this year, the commencement speaker gave the graduates this rather gloomy charge. “You’re going into a dark world.” As a Biola trustee, I was sitting on the stage facing the students, who moments earlier had been listening optimistically to the speaker, a world-renowned expert in justice and human rights. The moment he reminded them that the world is a dark place, their faces fell. Then, just as quickly as he had pronounced his statement about the way things really are, he said, “And I envy you.”

He went on to explain that the only thing capable of dispelling darkness is light. “Darkness doesn’t stand a chance when light enters in,” he said. His charge to those students, about to be unleashed on the world, was that they have the opportunity to bring light—the light of Jesus and the light of the hope that is within them—to a dark world.

I’m not suggesting that our politicians should talk about bringing the light of Jesus to the world. That’s not their role. But don’t you think it’s important for those who have the light to think and talk realistically about the darkness?

Before you answer, here’s another shot of realism to consider. When we shine light on the darkness, it can put us in an uncomfortable position. Even more, it can lead to hostility. In a blog entitled “Christians Must Embrace the Role of Villain,” Aaron Earls makes this sobering observation:
Like Daniel, we live in a nation hostile to our faith, but we are called to remain faithful. Like the Jewish exiles in Jeremiah’s day, we find ourselves in a place that doesn’t feel like home, but we should strive to put down roots and work to make it better. Like the early church, the surrounding culture views us as strange (at best) or openly hostile, but we must live as cheerful villains challenging the cultural norms while loving those who disagree.

Before we bristle at the notion of being called “villains,” Earls reminds us that anyone who fights the subjective standards of society is considered a villain. “Those in power have frequently cast the disenfranchised and those who stood up for them as the villains, In their day, the abolitionists who fought against slavery were seen as villains. Civil Rights leaders were villains of the status quo.”

Yes, the world is dark, but it's not a hopeless world. As people who have experienced the Light of the world and been transformed by His power, we have a responsibility to bring that light to the world, not by force but by love.

»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.