This present darkness

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6.10-12.

As I read the words ‘this present darkness’ in my Quiet Time earlier this week, I reflected as follows.

The MSM (main-stream media) have battered us with depressing and often frightening news over the  past 18 months with the focus on Covid statistics and now suddenly, it seems, we are being battered with even more alarming news. It is good news that the anti-covid vaccinations have covered the vast majority of the population but while for a time infections and hospitalisations were dropping suddenly this week they have crept up from a fairly steady 35000 per day to 40000. As this news is set before us we have the biggest ever surge in wholesale gas prices; we are promised even bigger fuel bills from next April, as if they were not already high enough; we are promised food shortages with School Dinners in some areas being scaled back; a bleak Christmas as the supply chain will denude the shelves of toys and because of the shortage HGV drivers, and tanker drivers in particular, many fuel stations in the south east have no fuel. Furlough is ending and the £20 Universal Credit top-up is being stopped. All of this in addition to horrific abortion statistics, the approval of same- sex marriage and the BMA expressing neutrality on assisted dying.

 In a three word sentence it sounds as if ‘doomsday has arrived’.

In the light of this, the fear in people’s minds and hearts, although this is partially fuelled by the media, is very real, and it raises the question how should we as believers a) view the situation and b) what should/can we do about it?

I venture that the situation has, in some sort of cyclic sequence, been ever thus. In each age and each generation apparently unsolvable  problems have raised their ugly heads albeit in different ways and horrendous customs like child sacrifice have been practised and  the reason for this is that ‘we wrestle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness’ and we do not win. The  situation is indeed dark.

In the face of this darkness, man without God, imagines that there are political solutions, financial solutions, solutions that involve working together with other nations but fails to recognise that although the present darkness is, at least in part, a consequence of mishandling these areas, the actual cause is in the ‘spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ which cannot be dealt with by using human resources.

In the face of this we should focus on the darkness. John tells us in his first letter that ‘God is light and in him is no darkness at all’ 1 John 1.5 and this points us to the heart of the problem. In the western world we have effectively removed the source of light by not only ignoring God but also by abandoning the good guide he gave for right living. The light of God has been switched off     in almost all of our institutions, including many churches and this has happened in a generation or two.

How should we view this? With deep and prayerful concern asking that God will step into our world and shine ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 4.6 into the present darkness.

What should/can we do? Yes we MUST pray but we must also act. That action involves preparing for, and fighting a war. We cannot be pacifists in the face of this present darkness.

Jesus said to his disciples ‘you are the light of the world’ Matthew 5.14, and only light can dispel darkness. But it is not simply a case of being light for we have to fight to make that light visible in a world, where either through sheer wickedness or ignorance, ‘men love darkness rather than light’ John 3.19. ‘The light of the knowledge of the glory of God (is) in the face of Jesus Christ’ and the opposition to him is massive. But we have heavenly weapons with which to fight. The ‘spiritual forces in the heavenly places’ are strong but God is stronger and his armour will prevail. The battle is the Lord’s but we are his soldiers and we are called to be ‘Strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might’

Only as God’s people shine in this present darkness can things change. God has ‘given us over’ Romans 1.24;26;28 because we have side-lined him in our national life but it is not too late to repent.

Lord God help me to shine in this present darkness as you fill me with ‘the light of the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus.”

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