light-in-the-dark

Monte Hunt – Worship Leader

The subject of philosophy is one I greatly enjoy. It has fascinated and kept me enthralled for much of my adult life. And though I am no expert (far from it, in fact) I will now share a few musings that will hopefully inspire you to have some of your own.

People are often quite good at labeling an idea as a measurable, or even tangible thing, when in fact it is not a thing at all, but rather an idea that is dependent upon the existence of something real. Describing the the weather by how “cold” it is, as an example. While it is perfectly acceptable from a rhetorical sense to use this terminology (I do it, myself), it is in fact not a real thing. Cold is an immeasurable idea, for cold is merely the absence of heat. Another way of thinking of this is the idea of cold as dependent upon the very existence of what we call heat. Heat is measurable – cold is not.

And what is darkness? Is it a real thing, or like the idea of cold, is it an idea that can only be realized by the true existence of something else? Indeed it is the same, for darkness is merely the absence of light. Again, light is measurable – darkness is not.

If you are with me so far, let’s go a little further and apply this philosophy in a moral sense. Think of something that in your view is immoral. Whatever it is you are thinking of, why is it immoral? Why is it wrong? It is because you are comparing it to a standard of good, or of rightness. Without having a foundation of what is right, how can anyone claim anything to be wrong? The teacher informs the student of a wrong answer to a math problem precisely because there is a right answer.

There are a plethora of life applications to be made from this line of thinking, but here I will outline only a few. I encourage you to think critically and find others on your own.

First, all things that are universally considered “bad” are simply things that were once good and are now corrupted. C.S. Lewis said it best in his book Mere Christianity:

“Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled…Pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. I do not mean, of course, that the people who do this are not desperately wicked. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.”

To that end, evil is totally and utterly dependent upon the existence of good. And while the notion that “good triumphs over evil” (just as light always shines in the darkness) is a valid and true statement, what we cannot determine is that someday evil will no longer be. For just as light can be separated from darkness, so too goodness can and will be separated from badness.

This brings us to an interesting application: why do we all want to go to heaven? Or at least, why do we all say that? At the end of time God, the creator of all things (inherently good) will forever separate goodness from badness. For everything that is is either good, or once was good. So that which is good, and that which was once good, will no longer be intertwined as they are in this world. The goodness will all be in a place we call heaven; and the spoiled goodness will all be in a place we call hell.

We are often quick to cast negative judgment upon God for sending people to hell. After all, why would a good God send good people to hell, right? He wouldn’t, not if they were truly good. But the truth is this: none of us is truly good. The apostle Paul said it this way:

 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

In the end God is doing what He must. And those who choose to cherish good things gone bad will be granted the opportunity to cherish them forever in the place of eternal badness, darkness, and cold (or fire, but do the details really matter? Do you really want to find out?).

But we have one more issue to tackle. As I said before: none of us is good. This presents a serious problem for you and me. If God is the only one who is truly good, and we are good things gone bad, and he must separate Himself from the badness…I’ll allow you to sum up that equation. But thankfully there is one more variable that we’ve yet to discuss.

Jesus Christ, the begotten Son of God, provided a miraculous way of restoring us to beings who are once again truly good. I know it sounds totally crazy, and to go into any detail would require books of content, which I cannot go into here, but it is the truth. And this salvation from eternal badness has nothing to do with us trying to be good again. We do not make ourselves good to get back to God just as darkness cannot make itself into light.

Contrary to our “good gone bad” natural way of thinking, there is nothing we can do to become good again. Nothing. It is only once you and I accept this reality that we can begin to understand Christ’s gift of salvation. Once again, C.S. Lewis said it best:

“If you have really handed yourself over to [Jesus], it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these [good] things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Forgiven

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