What if you were a novelist and you wanted to write a book that would help children understand evil – how would you approach it? In the 1960’s, author Madeleine L’Engle created a science fantasy novel that attempted to present for children the struggle of good and evil. In the prior decade, the Chronicles of Narnia written by the Christian fantasy writer, C. S. Lewis, was published that also focused on the theme of good and evil for children of all ages.
L’Engle lived in rural Goshen, CT running a general store. Her works reflect both her Christian faith and her strong interest in modern science. Her manuscript “A Wrinkle in Time” was rejected by 26 publishers before it was finally published. Its eventual success included many auspicious literary awards. The adventure was then made into a movie in 2003. Unlike Narnia, her fantasy land was a place on another planet called Comazotz . She used the scriptural images of light and darkness to represent good and evil. The main premise of the story was the evil darkness she called “The Black Thing” that was consuming the light because of the lack of will and compassion in people. Comazotz was where the main characters had to go to stop the darkness that was already engulfing planet earth. I watched this movie around the time “Unlikely Warriors” was beginning to unfold. The scripture reference in John 3 was the springboard. This is the familiar and often-quoted reference John 3:16-21:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
As I read this, I began to wonder about this darkness and exactly what it is. The battle between light and darkness is throughout the Scriptures. In this context, the condition of darkness sounds like it is a spiritual evil that exists and can engulf us if we are not careful. But I am discovering that it is much more complex than that and how much we are a part of its creation. Perhaps we need to understand that concept a little better and how our choices and priorities impact the real picture.
Let us begin with the most basic concept. This evil darkness exists because of sin. Sin happens through humans who live for themselves ignoring what God commands through the Scriptures. I remembered this quote for Christians I once read: “When we forget that we are called to service to others, we then change our focus from ‘what does God want us to do to carry out his mission?’ to ‘I want what I want’”. Author Unknown. In the book and movie “A Wrinkle in Time” Jesus Christ was at the top of the list of light warriors as He should be.
John 1: 1-5 NIV: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Even novels written with fanciful scenarios have a basis in the human condition that’s true. The battle of light and darkness that Jesus Christ fights, is between conformity to the status quo (the darkness) and walking in the spirit of light – Him. The status quo is a way of controlling change especially for those who have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. A vested interest can be one that is social, financial or political, even religious. Thus, we are the darkness and we are the light.
Every community has a status quo mindset. If you are blessed to have a job, a comfortable roof over your head, a 401K, health insurance and a circle of family and friends to count on then you may not be aware of the status quo in your community. Your comfortable, ordered life could be the barrier standing in the way of seeing the lives of those who are impacted by the darkness created by this mindset.
In John 3:20 we read these words again:
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”
If we have the capability of being the darkness through our sins, then it’s important we understand how we create that darkness.
James 4:17 (NIV)
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
In the SwJ chapter in Volume 5 titled “The Process” I stated that I know and trust God is quietly working on those who can do much good, waiting for them to respond. As Christians, it is our commitment to listen for God’s guidance and see his Son in those who cross our paths everyday. In my work, I see the darkness represented in cultural bias, in illiteracy, the hopelessness of poverty, lack of mentorship, and just being unaccepted and rejected in the community at large. I see the darkness represented in less than acceptable treatment for many engaged in dealing with the social and legal system. In the legal system, there are those who are innocent but rather than risk an unpredictable outcome through the courts will take a plea bargain and then may be strapped with being a felon the rest of their life. We think that everyone is being fairly represented in the court system but that is not always the case if you can’t afford an attorney of your own choosing. In many instances they have only seen their public defender minutes before going into the courtroom and consequently have been at the mercy of the courts. Many times they are unable to speak for themselves and because of that, drop even further into an abyss of failure. The county where I grew up was the same. Many times your last name mattered as to whether you got a break or not. Seeing past the stumbling block of someone’s last name can be difficult if that is the way it has always been – the status quo.
Much of what I am describing is, I’m sure, the status quo mindset of all communities. The drug culture in our rural areas where this darkness is most prevalent due to lack of resources is decimating families. When we are not interested in seeing what this culture is doing to our children and seeking ways to help make a plan for restorative justice when their lives take a criminal path, then we are contributing to the darkness. When we see ways in which we could make a difference and look the other way, we are contributing to the darkness. “The Black Thing” in the story that was engulfing planet Earth because of the lack of will and compassion is a real issue in our communities today that can only be changed when we take a personal interest.
Be actively involved in your county and state’s politics. Take a look at each county and state government representative’s priorities and or voting record to make a decision about them. If they are only interested in keeping the status quo and not trying to make a difference for the betterment of all, then you should reconsider what to do with your precious vote. It was in the news just recently that a representative in Oklahoma was working on a bill to ban wearing “hoodies” in public for everyone on the premise that they provided anonymity in a criminal situation.
We can be the Unlikely Warriors of Light. Our weaknesses are our strengths. God told Apostle Paul these words to Paul’s request to remove a physical ailment that he had:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (Paul’s response: ) ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’. “
II Cor 12:9
There are unlikely warriors of light who are working very hard in their areas of calling to make a difference. I have seen them in our communities and they are a Godsend! They are not always the ones you suspect. They are from all financial levels; church goers and non-church goers. They may have their limitations but because they are passionate about helping others they continue on. (Remember our weaknesses are our strengths and in them Christ can be glorified.) Their lights are pushing the darkness back by helping people who are at the edge of greater failure keeping them from falling further. They are the ones who are using creative problem-solving through restorative justice to change the future of their towns.
They are always seeing possibilities with new eyes. Joining CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for children) will put you in a position to help the children in your county and also their parents. Support the work of Christos House. Volunteer at your local pantry. Help with the high school diploma equivalency and literacy programs. People cannot change unless they have the basic tools to do so. Look around your community to see what programs are impacting your area of interest and volunteer. Maybe you just like to bake. See if you can provide baked goods for meetings where people are coming together to create solutions for community issues. This could truly be a ministry of hospitality. If you are a positive person encouraging others every day, then you are an Unlikely Light Warrior. There is no skill that is inconsequential. All are called to join with Jesus Christ in His Work.
John 1:9-18 NIV
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
There are also those who are victimized most by the darkness who are unlikely warriors of light, pushing back the darkness of stereotypes and grinding poverty. I have been blessed to see the people I serve change their own situations and rescue their children and themselves from abuse and drugs.
There is an account in John 9 that teaches us about how Jesus deals with the status quo. A blind man was begging at a popular gate where many travelers passed each day. Jesus and His disciples were passing by that day. This is the conversation that ensues:
2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
Later, the Pharisees who kept the status quo of their day became part of the story:
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (In that time and culture, being put out of the synagogue would have made a dramatic impact on this family for going against the status quo. People today are impacted by taking a stand for doing what they know to be the right thing even if is unpopular. RF)
24 A second time they (the Pharisees) summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.
31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
We are the darkness and we are the light. It’s always a choice. God bless the sweetwater you share as light to those around you.