I was perusing social media the other day and came across a post that was simply a picture with text that struck me. Unfortunately, it didn’t strike as profound but as wrong.
The text read, “This is America… we have a virus…but 99% of those who contract it will survive. We have some racists…but 99.95% of people you meet are color blind and don’t have a racist bone in their body. We have some bad cops… but 99.95% of law enforcement personnel you meet would risk their life for yours. If you choose to see evil then evil is all you will see. As for me I choose to see the good in everything. My heart is full. I’ve got nothing but love to give.”
The post struck me as deeply the wrong viewpoint to hold when we look at the world today. It brushes off real problems and diminishes what love looks like.
As Christians, God calls us to be the light in Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Some folks would say, “Of course, Haley. I am being the light. I am trying to get people to remember that there is good in this broken world and not focus so much on the evil, not to mention it’s a nice idea to not dwell on evil.”
However, I believe that might not actually be the correct approach. We assume that when we read these verses these places are dark and therefore need a light in them. It would be silly to just keep turning lights on in an already lit room, right? So then to be a good light, we must acknowledge the darkness, right? Conversely it follows, that we have to acknowledge evil to make changes. If we want to be the light of Christ, we must face darkness head on and also see the goodness around us. We must acknowledge wrongdoing, missing the mark and evil to make change. I know that’s hard and often some of those decisions, if they are wrong, have far reaching consequences and we must be discerning. At some point we must act, step into the darkness, into the mess and make changes because we can paralyze ourselves trying to make sure we aren’t doing the wrong thing.
As Christians we are called to a both/and approach. We must face evil head on while still being able to point out goodness. We must hold them in tension, not forgetting the good and not dismissing the evil. In 1 John 1:5-10, we are given a lesson on light, dark, sin and forgiveness. In verse eight the author says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Likewise, if we brush off real issues like the virus, racism and police brutality we are lying to ourselves. If we chose to ignore evil and only focus on the good, evil festers like a wound and the infection gets worse and worse. If we choose to stop pointing out goodness, we become cynical and discouraged, eventually being swallowed by the darkness we so deeply wanted to light.
The end of the post talks about only having love to give. Love is gritty and takes inventory of the issues, offering care and concern without dismissing the issue at hand. Imagine your best friend being incredibly rude and callous. Would you look at them and tell them that they are the nicest person you know? Of course not! You tell them the truth because of your love for them.
So, my prayer is that we face darkness head on and do not fall to the temptation to be a light in an already lit room, the temptation to choose not to see evil, because the world will not get any brighter that way, only our little room. That’s not what the Lord has called us to do. We must love by facing the issues at hand, we cannot brush them off as inconsequential.