9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them. (NIV)
My wife and I regularly watch the CSI programs on television, and others like them. I’m always a little curious when the investigators search through the crime scene with flashlights, even though the room lights are on. I guess that’s so they can see things a little more clearly. If you try that at home, looking at the carpet with a flashlight shining on it, you can see things a bit differently and a little more clearly, even in the daylight.
Somebody someday should invent a Flashdark – a device that would obscure from your vision an object you aimed it at. So you might be out driving along the road on a nice sunny day and see that you’re coming up on some roadkill – aim the Flashdark at it and you wouldn’t see it – just a sort of black fuzzy spot instead. Or suppose you didn’t want to see your grade on a school paper – aim the Flashdark at it and shazzam! The grade is gone from sight.
But I think I already have a built-in Flashdark in my heart, and maybe you do, too. I think it works like this: I think that most of the time I like to think that I am living in the light of Jesus and His love. I like to think that I’m getting better at it, and spending more and more time in His light. It’s possible that you feel the same way. And yet sometimes my heart shines its Flashdark on to something it doesn’t want to see, and makes it easy for me to ignore that thing or pretend that it’s something that it isn’t. For instance,
My heart may shine its Flashdark on someone who is a different color than I am, or who has different abilities, or who makes more money than I do or who has less money than I do – and the Flashdark obscures the fact that this person is a beloved, redeemed, welcomed, treasured child of the heavenly Father, just like me.
My heart may shine its Flashdark on someone who has a lot of behavior problems, or is a difficult person to like, let alone love – and the Flashdark obscures also the immense, unfathomable love that God has for them just as He has for me.
My heart may shine its Flashdark on someone else’s circumstances and cause me to respond with “there but for the grace of God” – and the Flashdark obscures also the fact that the same could be – and is – true of me as well.
All this is to say to John and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, on those days when I’m relying on that Flashdark to inform me about the people that I meet and work with, Lord, take that Flashdark from my hands and replace it with a Flashlight so that I can see clearly the love, the forgiveness, and the value that you have for each one of them. And if I’m looking at you with my Flashdark, too, I’m sorry. Please forgive me and help me to see you in the light of the love of Christ.