THE LIMITATIONS OF DARKNESS


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to judge (ἵνα κρίνῃ) the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged (οὐ κρίνεται); he who does not believe is judged already (ἤδη κέκριται), because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment (ἡ κρίσις), that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed...” (Jn 3: 16-20)

The words used here for “judge/judged/judgment” (provided above in Greek) all stem from the verb “κρίνω (krino),” which primarily means “to separate, part, distinguish.” It is in this sense that we understand it to mean “judge,” as in “to make a judgment” about, or discern and “separate” the good from the bad. I point this out because this term, “to judge,” is often translated into English, unfortunately, with words stemming from “condemn/condemnation.” But “condemnation,” as Karl Jung observed, “does not liberate; it oppresses. And I am the oppressor of the person I condemn.”

But God is not our oppressor. He is our liberator, as Vanquisher of Death. And the primary meaning of the verb actually used here (krino) is being “separated, parted, and distinguished” from the realm of light, life, and freedom. And that means, being limited, of our own volition, to the light-less, color-less, and life-less realm of darkness. It also means fearing exposure, “For every one who does evil… does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” So – the point of this passage is not to indicate God’s “condemnation” or supposed disappointment in us (because God never "changes," also in His undying love for us), but to indicate our own, wilful and fearful “separation” and self-isolation from the limitless possibilities of growth and change, which can only happen in light. – Because nothing grows in the dark.

So, “separation” from the Light, that is my Lord Jesus Christ, is limiting, isolating, and ultimately dull, limiting me to do the same thing over and over again, in pointless, sinful patterns. But in Him I am given to know, and not fear, both the good and the bad, in the freedom and wisdom of His Spirit. As C. S. Lewis notes, “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” So let me re-connect with the dynamics of His grace today, in heartfelt prayer, that I may grow and change, according to His light-filled, liberating will for me.

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