If you've ever seen a sattlelight night time image of North Korea in comparison to surrounding countries... you know what darkness can be.According to Wikipedia, “Darkness, in contrast with brightness, is a relative absence of visible light.” Darkness is something we associate with night, cold, death, or evil. It also symbolizes ignorance or being lost and confused in a metaphorical sense (i.e. “groping in darkness”). It may bring to mind images of superstitious jungle natives, the dark ages, even the black plagues of Europe. But it’s not something we would typically think of as describing the general state of our world today.
This is the modern age of technology and science- man has done things that have never been done before, conquered frontiers never before dreamt of. We think of ourselves as living in an age of enlightenment, in the blazing light of the information age. Optimism runs high as we see the accomplishments of modern technology, the newest gadgets, the latest research. There’s a well-equipped hospital always within driving distance and a corner drug store, we have inalienable rights and law enforcement to protect us, we can feel safe and warm. Hasn’t mankind made progress?
Indeed we have, man has certainly made some formidable accomplishments in modern times. But, upon closer inspection of the bigger picture, it would seem that these great strides might be more rightly compared to twinkling stars against a backdrop of prevailing darkness, than to the dawning of the full light of day.
Consider the reality of some of the problems that plague our world such as poverty, with nearly 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty just last year, almost half of the world living on under $2.50 per day, and more than 500 million people classified by the world bank as living in “absolute poverty.” Hunger is estimated to effect nearly 1 in 7 households in the US with food insecurity, while up to 1 in 3 children under the age of 5 in the developing world have shown physical effects of malnutrition.
That’s not to mention issues such as unemployment, violence, organized crime, and other hidden epidemics such as child abuse and family dysfunction. When you add on top of these things environmental concerns of pollution and climate change, as well as the pressures of deepening global financial insecurity, it’s not such a pretty picture. It might even be said that despite all our modern technology, we’re still living in a dark ages of sorts.
But, what is the cause of all the darkness? Perhaps we should consider the very essence of darkness and what it really is.
The most striking example of a phenomenon which does not allow for the existence of light is, of course, a black hole. This is essentially an object which having lost it’s original brightness and collapsing in on itself, becomes a source of continual gravity.
If you consider the example of the black hole, in comparison to a star, it seems to come clear that the very essence of darkness may be selfishness. The essence of light is an outflow of energy coming from a star, such as the sun, but darkness results from the star in which it’s energy flow is turned in on itself. So, it could almost be said that the sole purpose for it’s existence is to draw things to itself, rather than to output energy or benefit to others.
Could it be, then, that selfishness is the inherent cause for the metaphorical darkness that exists in our world? It’s a thought almost suggestive of a galactic struggle between forces of good and evil.
Other than stars, this same pattern can be seen in life forms on earth as well- that death, a form of darkness, results when the flow of energy turns in on the object which once had a healthy outflow pattern. One example is the heart- the very essence of congestive heart disease is that it is no longer able to pump well, enlarges and congests as it receives more than it is able to emit. This is also the case with the Dead Sea of Israel in which no major life forms exist (as “dead” obviously suggests).
Life, and certainly light, cannot exist for long under circumstances where a body only receives but does not have outflow. And, if you think about most or nearly all of the problems and darkness in our world, you can usually trace it back to somebody’s selfishness or greed along the way. And yet how many of us live without much higher purpose in mind than to enjoy and benefit ourselves from life? Are we, then, contributing to the darkness? Yet this darkness seems to be a natural part of who we are- because it's what we were born into.
How can we overcome this darkness? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said;
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Here he rightly, in my opinion, compares darkness to hatred and light to love. It seems fitting for our analogy since selfishness in it’s extreme form is hatred, or indifference, for all things but the self, while true or altruistic love requires a flow of ones energies from the self outward, like light.
Thus we can see from these comparisons that altruism, or seeking to benefit others besides oneself, is a basic life principle which is required for the continued existence of life. Perhaps that’s the reason there is so much death in the land, and darkness. But cursing the darkness will never help. To recognize and comment on the problems in our world will never solve them. As MLK Jr. said, it is only light that can drive out darkness. It is only love that can drive out hate.
Such was the life of Christ, a life of love, a candle in the darkness. In noble, altruistic bravery, He loved those who cursed Him, loved until the end. It is an example that, if appreciated, could even roll back the darkness in our world.
We don't have it within us to live and to love as He did, but by beholding Him and experiencing His love for us we can become changed, through miracle of His grace that works in our lives with the same Power that makes the grass spring out of the earth and the flowers bloom- a little at a time...
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
For very excellent topical Bible study resources, including end-time events and prophecy, see the following resources (Amazing Facts- btw, I am in no way connected with them in business):