31 January 2008

darkness into light

So, one last time, "why darkness into light?"

One reader found a connection between Hasidic-Reggae artist Matisyahu and the blog title. Others, we can only assume, created their own realities (or more likely never gave it much thought).

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The truth is that the blog title was dually influenced by the bible and a certain Matisyahu song.

The bible-writer John, in particular, talks a lot about darkness and light. Never is it more profound than when Jesus drops “I am the light of the world” on everyone in John 8:12. He goes on to say that, “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John later says that whoever wishes to be in the light must "walk as Jesus walked."

So, I think, in a very simple way, that is the essence of the blog title. Jesus is light of the world. And we can feed hungry kids, but it won’t satisfy them. We can bring water to the parched lips of the desperate here, but that will never quench their thirst. The only thing that will last is Jesus, the light. And so, we seek darkness (injustice, oppression, poverty – spiritual, physical, or otherwise) and we seek to bring the light to it.

A second, much more subtle idea that sits behind the blog title does indeed come from Matisyahu and his song “Warrior”. As a Hasidic Jew (read: orthodox – Google it), Matisyahu raps about some very deep, profound subjects. He also shares our history through the Torah.

During a performance of this song, he took a minute to explain where the idea came from:

“Hasidis explains that everything in this world, everything in this life has an inner essence and an inner soul. And when it started out, before the soul was reincarnated into this life, into this body and time and place that we find ourselves…it was basking above in the rays of Godliness. And it comes into this world for one reason, you know: that it should transform the darkness into light. It should take the darkness of this world and make it light…”

Now, the word “reincarnated” scares a lot of people. But this isn’t the idea that I will die and come back as a gerbil or a carburetor or something in my next life. This is the idea that our soul was known to God before our physical bodies existed on this earth. This is the idea that somehow, we existed with Him in paradise and that He has hidden that beauty and that “light” deep within us. It is this idea that leads many Christians today to believe that when we encounter “Truth” (i.e. God’s glory in Jesus), we know it to be true not because of some evidence or emotional experience, but because we “remember” it.

So, Matisyahu quotes an idea that says that we are known to God and He sends us into the world in order to bring the darkness into the light, in order to bring glory back to His name.

There are Bible passages that correspond. Check Ecclesiastes 3:11… “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

“He has set eternity in the hearts of men…” That is a really rich idea: That, somehow, we know what eternity is like. That maybe the reason that no amount of money or sex or power or status can please us is because we know of something (somewhere in the depths of our soul) that surpasses all of those things. Somewhere, God has set eternity and its beauty within us. Mysteriously beautiful…

2 Corinthians 4:6 says this: “For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,'made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

God made His light to shine in our hearts. Is that incredible to you? It freaks me out. God did this to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ? I cannot even fathom the glory of God, much less that somewhere within me I possess the knowledge of it. Like I said, mysteriously beautiful…

Darkness into light...

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