Over the last few months, I have been struck by how often the Bible speaks about light and dark. As believers, we are reminded that darkness was once our dwelling place, yet we are encouraged again and again to leave behind the "fruitless deeds of darkness" in order to "live as children of the light". However, John paints a pretty good picture of how the people of God often respond:
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
The writers of the New Testament knew well the temptation faced by every man and woman: to keep at least some part of our lives hidden in the dark, either because we are not ready to give something up, or because we fear shame. Many people feel like hiding is the easier, safest option, because it lets us avoid the messy process of changes and exposures and restoration. It doesn't require us to face ourselves and deal with what we see, nor does it demand that we risk allowing anyone else to really see us. It lets us control our image without actually lining our lives up to match that image (though we all know it will backfire somewhere down the line).
What I am beginning to realize is that we've got it completely backwards. Living in the dark--fearing exposure and clinging to things that will kill us--is a far more exhausting and complicated way to live. Choosing to face the temporary embrassment of allowing our lives to be exposed is followed by the incredible freedom that comes with having nothing to hide. This is the freedom for which Christ has set us free! (Galatians 5:1)
More and more, I find that I want nothing to do with the shame and struggle of clinging to the things of darkness, no matter how tantalizing and comforting they may look. Yes, I am quite attached to some of those things, and yes, there are some of them I would rather not bring out where the world can see them. But that life of hiding is no life at all. I want a life that I can live in broad daylight, unafraid of being "found out." Sure, I still squirm when I have to confess taking a dark detour or embracing one of the fruitless deeds I have been called to leave behind. That uncomfortable squirming, however, is worth knowing that any love and respect I recieve from those around me is based on the real me, not just the pleasant parts I choose to let them see. When sin tempts me into the shadows, stirring in me overpowering longings for its false answers, the joy of that freedom pulls me back into the light.
As John said, it is when we live in the light that the world can see God's power through our often messy lives. And if it's true that we can trust God to do good and powerful things in our lives, regardless of our struggles and weaknesses, then we have everything to offer, and absolutely nothing to hide. We are free to live our lives in the brightest light of day.
"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."