There is so much pain in the daily news. One hundred fifty-four lost their lives in the mysterious crash of Malaysian flight 370. Mud slides claimed other lives in Washington. An explosion killed neighbors in two Harlem apartment buildings. Over sixty health care workers trying to immunize people against polio have been murdered in Pakistan. Russia annexed Crimea and is threateningly perched on the border of Ukraine in what looks like a throwback to the deplorable days of Communist aggression against Eastern Europe. Every time we read the paper or watch TV, it is easy to become more and more alarmed about the declining state of affairs on Planet Earth. We feel a lot like the old song by Anne Murray: “I sure could use a little good news today.”
Sometimes it’s hard not to become overwhelmed by the darkness around us. But, Christians persist in believing that amid the darkness shines “the Light of the World.” And that is not some sort of escapism, a reiteration of the pie-in-the sky dreaming that helps us endure the hellishness of here-and-now. Instead, we believe that Jesus is, in fact, the Light of THIS world – a way to “life abundant” in this day and this age. If nothing else, the story of Jesus helps us see this world in a more honest way. If we look for Him, we still see Him all around us. We cannot deny the pains and problems that are ever-present. But, neither should we deny the evidences of light and love that are also present. If we seek for goodness and light, it is not that difficult to find. For example, there has been a global outpouring of sympathy and compassion for the mourners of the lost plane. There have been immediate responses of food, shelter, and medical attention for the victims of the mudslides and the apartment explosion. The government of Pakistan has condemned the murders and has pledged to increase safety measures for those who are simply seeking to keep people from contracting illness. The Free World is speaking out on behalf of the people of Ukraine, and NATO and the UN have pledged they will take actions to protect the vulnerable.
Crosses appear on the Golgothas of life, but for every Cross there is an Easter’s empty tomb. And for every person who acts from evil motive, we can name a hundred others who are primarily motivated by kindness and love. The presence of evil does not mean the absence of good. It simply means that in a natural world like ours, bad things sometimes happen and bad folks sometimes appear on the horizon. History has been filled with stories of malevolent humans who seemed poised to destroy us. But, they are all gone, and our world remains undestroyed. And so we find hope in that. And so we pray. And so we worship. And so we assist all those whom we can assist. And so we use both voice and vote to make statements about the priorities of Truth and justice and love. And so we continue to identify acts of mercy, which reveal to us the ongoing presence of Christ among us. And so we throw our lot with that which is right and for those who have no lot to throw. Good and evil co-exist. That’s how life is. But, we can become forces on the side of Good. And every individual who makes that one decision enlarges the coalition of Faith and Grace which we believe will ultimately triumph.
Jesus told the story of some workers who hurried to the owner of a field, distressed that some evil man had sown weeds among the wheat. “Shall we burn it all down?,” they asked. And the owner replied, “No, for in so doing you will destroy the harvest.” They saw weeds, he saw a harvest of wheat. Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective. Do we focus on wheat or weeds, since both are present in the field of life? And, should we choose to focus on wheat, then in the very act of living for that which is good, we make the field around us stronger and healthier. As the old saying goes, “It’s better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.”
Yes, sometimes the news seems filled with shadows. But, here’s “the good news” Ms. Murray hoped for: “Jesus’ light still shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.” (John 1:5)