The Only Light in this Present Darkness
It is a strange time of year, Christmas. For some it awakens feelings of joy and comfort, for some it brings the nostalgia of days past, and for others it is a harsh reminder of loss that stirs fresh grief and pain in our hearts. Sometimes it is a mixture of them all. Either way, one can hardly enter this season without being forced to face some sort of depth of emotion and introspection.
And isn’t that just how it’s supposed to be? Jesus didn’t enter this world to soothe its ego, but to shake it up, to force it to face its sin problem. Like the title says, we live in present darkness (Ephesians 6:12), and sometimes when we forget, December rolls around and reminds us of the truth that this world is broken.
This past week, some friends of ours found out their children had been looking up some inappropriate things on the internet. Barely even preteens, they live in a home with purposeful parenting and firm boundaries where the gospel is proclaimed regularly. Yet here enters an absolute punch to the gut, and their parents’ minds reeling: What did we do wrong? Could this have been prevented? Aren’t they too young to have to deal with this?
Yes, as parents we are called to guard and protect our children, but the reality is that we can’t bubble wrap them and protect them from everything. There is sin in a fallen world they need to be aware of and fight against, but sin isn’t only in the world out there. If we could ship our children to Mars completely isolated for the entirety of their childhood, they would still be living in darkness. In Genesis 3:17, God tells Adam, “cursed is the ground because of you.” Notice the order: man’s sin first, cursed ground second. And Jeremiah 17:9 tells us “the heart is deceitful above ALL things.” Not some things, but all things. Our children cannot be shielded from the darkness of the world, because the sin, the evil, and the deceit begin in their hearts.
Every parent knows this. No child has to be trained to say “no” or to argue with his parents or to fight with his siblings. The training is always contrary to these things: how to share, how to be generous, how to look out for others, how to obey, etc. Children are born with naturally selfish, sinful little hearts that require daily (hourly, minutely, exhausting) cultivating.
We have always believed in being offensive parents. In Deuteronomy 6 we are commanded to teach our children diligently so that they may be equipped with the truth. We don’t defend our children FROM the world, but train them to live as Christians IN the world. But on some level, as parents, we really hope that they never have to be offensive. In reality, we hope that they can live a comfortable, “successful” life, without conflict and without pain, without being sucked into destructive patterns of sin, unscathed from the curse. And so while it shouldn’t be, what a heavy, heartbreaking, shock it is to be faced with such weighty conflicts at such young ages.
And really, at every age.
Because while this week the manifestation of man’s heart problem may be displayed in a painfully wrenching way in the lives of some young children, the reality is that as adults, we have the same heart condition. We adults are just usually better at hiding or covering it up with more skillfully crafted fig leaves. Even while we may grow stronger in Christ, we never outgrow our sin and therefore never outgrow our need for our Rescuer.
What a kind, gentle God to bring these trials at such a time of year, a time of year when we are focused on the coming of a Savior. It was a both a harsh and sweet reminder that though this world is fallen, though sin reaches the furthest depths of even a young child’s heart, there is hope. God sent his Son to break the chains of sin and death “far as the curse is found.” We should not be surprised by sin, and yet, we should understand the weight of it: its cure cost the most precious baby to be born solely with the purpose to die to rescue us from it.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
To hear more about the Prophecy of Christmas and the only Light in present darkness, you can listen to last week’s sermon here.