Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Some friends of mine and I have been discussing why it is so important to keep the engine of creation humming in art, music, literature, crafts, the trades, and all other works of mankind that lighten the load a little and enlighten the mind, heart and spirit through the gifts of God for aid and comfort–especially today in a world that seems to have gone mad with stealing, killing, and destroying.
In fact, such power shines even brighter as the SKD-ers get louder and more violent…
However, it doesn’t seem as if poems and plays, sculptures and souffles, and kindergarten flowers made of construction paper and glitter would amount to all that much when it seems that evil holds all the power, glamor, and gain in times such as ours and we should really get us some tanks and guns and nano poisons to put an end to all the recklessness and ruin.
But if history is (re)written by the victors, chronicles of reality, from which we can learn and remember, hope and persevere, are embedded in art and craft to remind and sustain ourselves, others–and each other–that there is hope–and a true way forward.
Evil can’t cancel everyone and everything.
It hasn’t yet.
Rather, from the artifacts preserved by prophets, preachers and other truth-seekers, we see–and understand–that evil will eventually be destroyed.
For now, those called to literal soldiering can perform that service.
But we also serve who write and sing and paint and invent things to soothe, heal, and inspire, who refuse to allow our light to be dimmed underneath someone else’s bushel basket, and who soldier on in our own essential way in the war of good versus evil.
And we must.
For if you think about it, it isn’t evil’s artifacts that get dog-eared, tear-stained–even blood-stained–after evil has run its course and for which people sometimes risk their lives to smuggle out to inform and enlighten the rest of the world.
But we search the wreckage for somebody who wrote or painted or performed or invented something real from their experience, perseverance and/or victory through the power of the indomitable human spirit (not to mention God’s Holy Spirit) that won’t be buried, either, under the rubble and rust left behind by mean men.
We search for artifacts of truth, justice, and solace.
We search for something greater than the despots, dictators, and destroyers who advertise shiny promises but never live up to them and who end up being just like all the other liars, anyway.
We search for good and for God, if we’re honest (although rage and revenge would smother that quest, too if we allow).
For evil is clear enough to comprehend.
Though the “news” clangs, pings, and rattles for my attention 24/7, I have decided to let it fall away unless I need to know, and, as best I can, to follow the narrow path that leads more clearly and more surely to the only way, truth, and life out of the hot, global mess of darkness we’re in just now, that, as always, attempts to destroy without and to quench the light within.
We mustn’t let it.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (emphasis added).
Fellow blogger Colin Markham from Hythe, Kent, England, has permitted me to feature two of his contributions, a poem and an essay, on the theme of this post: spiritual light in the darkness we face today in perhaps the most significant, multi-pronged battle in the war of good versus evil yet–and there is worse to come if prophecy scholars are correct.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read and reflect–something else evil would like to steal and destroy–because of the power of such disciplines to free captive minds and hearts every bit as much as other weapons of our warfare in the battle between the destroying spirit resident in the world and the Holy Spirit residing in all those who so choose Him,* giving us the power to overcome the darkness in the light of Christ.
Markham blogs at fellowshipofstpeter.com, focusing on “Christian spirituality and fellowship,” that, as he describes it, is “designed to enlighten and encourage through the inspiration of Holy Scripture, to convey the grace and love of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The blog is “conservative in ethos,” he notes, “but it is not presented from any particular Christian tradition or church denomination. The daily readings are drawn from my own selection.”
The victory of light over darkness
(with special reference to Ephesians 3 and 6)
A muted light beckons the night,
the shadows of darkness gather.
The shape of evil moves across the world,
a harbinger of things to come.
Yet the light of Truth musters its power
and disciples of the Word brace their faith.
Principalities and ruling forces
learn the many-sided wisdom of God.
From all eternity Christ Jesus our Lord
triumphs against Satan’s legions,
piercing the length and breadth, the height and depth
of the devil’s realm.
We of the Remnant stand our ground,
Truth a belt, righteousness a breastplate,
and the Gospel of peace on winged feet,
with the shield of faith to quench the burning arrows of evil.
Wielding the sword of the Spirit,
salvation is the gift and the crown,
eternal life recompense after a broken world,
Christ’s loving embrace the welcome to paradise.
Darkness and light
Quotations from Holy Scripture are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? (Psalm 27.1).
God is the author of light, not only in the heavenly spheres, but the light of Truth – that is, Truth that stands scrutiny in the clear light of faith and reason. The dichotomy between darkness and light is a fit subject for our present-day turmoil. Darkness encroaches on the light of Truth, darkness in the shape of Godless political rhetoric that would seek to exalt humanity above God. Darkness works to extinguish the light in favour of counterfeit claims of happiness and prosperity that emanate from the Evil One and battles to capture the human imagination.
From the Letter of James we glean two passages with an interlinking theme illustrating the masterful work of God as Father of all light:
Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: all that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change. By his own choice he gave birth to us by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all his creation (1.16-18).
Anyone who is wise or understanding among you should from a good life give evidence of deeds done in the gentleness of wisdom. But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy, or selfish ambition, do not be boastful or hide the truth with lies; this is not wisdom that comes from above, but earthly, human and devilish. Wherever there are jealousy and ambition, there are also disharmony and wickedness of every kind; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also peaceable, kindly and considerate; it is full of mercy and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. The peace sown by peacemakers brings a harvest of justice (3.13-18).
God made man to be first-fruits of His creative power, an honoured position in God’s plan. Man’s ascendancy over the natural world is part of God’s deliberate plan to keep order in the world, to develop and exploit its manifold resources. Nature reveals the perfection of God and Jesus Christ is the perfection of man. He is the revelation of God in humanity in perfect harmony with his maker, as God ordained at the time of creation, a divine wind sweeping over the waters. God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good (Genesis 1.2-3). When He had completed his work of creating the natural world, God decreed that man should be created in His own image to be master of all he surveyed (Genesis 1.26-27).
Human beings were given primacy of status in the hierarchy of creation, but this was marred by the Fall, the sin of presumption, when Adam and Eve presumed they could enjoy equal standing with their maker (Genesis 3). Evil had now revealed itself as a shadow that would be cast over the whole of man’s relationship with God, an eternal struggle of darkness and light, the search for autonomy. The complexities of the natural world meant that the human intellect had to be endowed with sophisticated powers of reasoning, and this brainpower could only be exercised through free will. But this span of control was inevitably used for good and evil ends because man, in the Garden of Eden, had fallen from grace. This is the human condition in which the devices and desires of free will alternate between benign and malign intentions. A constant tension exists in each and every one of us to do good or to do evil.
At length, God saw fit to confront the accumulated transgressions of man. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Saviour of mankind. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Gk. Logos = knowledge, essence, emanation) who was with God at creation (Proverbs 8.22-31; John 1.1-3). He bears the impress of God’s own being (Hebrews 1.3). What has come into being was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it (John 1.4-5). Jesus is the new Adam to replenish the human soul with the true imprint of holiness, a holiness that can only flow out of God’s love to fill the human heart with new life, light and love (see 1 John 4.7-21).
I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life (John 8.12).
At the moment of Christ’s death on the Cross, evil was avenged. The resurrection of Jesus is proof positive of His triumph over death. All who choose to follow Christ, acknowledging Him as their Redeemer, are saved from the finality of death and promised eternal life. Christ is the manifestation of God in human form so that God becomes His own agent to atone for the corrosive effects of human wickedness. Mankind now has entry to a spiritual realm, the Kingdom of God, as a moral path to follow until the end of his days, when his earthly body is changed and he becomes a spiritual being. The perishable becomes imperishable (1 Corinthians 15.50-57).
The current battle between good and evil
We should never underestimate the ferocity of the battle that wages in the human mind, the impulse to do good and to do evil. Now, as we stand almost two thousand years since the crucifixion of Christ, we find ourselves increasingly besieged by evil forces intent on destruction.
The twentieth century saw an unprecedented falling away from the faith, and now many of the churches are in varying degrees in thrall to the prevailing culture of secular humanism. Mankind is gradually moving towards the day of judgement, a great reckoning which Jesus prophesied – see the Olivet Discourses in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. The forces of evil have captivated the human mind, having gained a hold in the corridors of power throughout the western hemisphere. Their vile and destructive doctrines have infiltrated every avenue of political, social and cultural activity, the long march of atheistic Marxism through the institutions of man.
We might say, with the psalmist:
Arise, Lord, human strength shall not prevail. The nations shall stand trial before you (Psalm 9.19).
In the end evil will not triumph. Within the worldwide Christian community there are pockets of resistance forming a worldwide community, the scattered brethren of God who constitute the faithful Remnant that will be saved from the coming annihilation of evil forces. Christ will come again to complete his work of redemption and the Evil One will be utterly defeated. Then Christ will reign supreme in His kingdom – see Revelation 21, 22 and 2 Peter 2, 3.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone’ (Revelation 21.1-4, cf. Isaiah 65.7; Ezekiel 37.27; Isaiah 8.8; 25.8).
Amen; come, Lord Jesus. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen (Revelation 22.20-21, cf. 1 Corinthians 16.22).
*Here is more information on the reality and the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life, and linked below is a good summary of how and why to receive salvation through Jesus Christ, Who said of Himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”: ABCs of Salvation