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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Getting used to the dark by Vance Havner 2

Here is how it works. A secular journal says: “The desensitization of 20th-century man is more than a danger to the common safety. . . . There are some things we have no right ever to get used to. One ... is brutality. The other is the irrational. Both . . . have now come together and are moving towards a dominant pattern.”

There was a time when sin shocked us. But as the brainwashing progresses, what once amazed us only amuses us. We laugh at the shady joke; tragedy becomes comedy; we learn to speak the language of Vanity Fair.

I heard a preacher tell a doubtful joke to a man of this world. Evidently he wanted to give the impression that preachers are used to the dark; actually he was accommodating himself to the dungeon of this age. Dr. John H. Jowett describes this peril of the preacher: “We are tempted to leave our noontide lights behind in our study and to move among men with a dark lantern which we can manipulate to suit our company.

We pay the tribute of smiles to the low business standard. We pay the tribute of laughter to the fashionable jest We pay the tribute of easy tolerance to ambiguous pleasures. We soften everything to a comfortable acquiescence. We seek to be all things to all men to please all. We run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. We become the victims of illicit compromise. There is nothing distinctive about our character.'* That applies to more people than preachers!

The housewife who moves into suburbia and wants to go along with the group spirit of the community faces the same temptation. So does the organization man at the boss's party or the student on a pagan campus. There are new techniques for serializing at Vanity Fair, but Bunyan's pilgrims had the right idea. We are not here to learn how to live in the dark but to walk in the light. We are not here to get along with evil but to overcome it with good.

One of the signs of getting used to the dark is the way we excuse sin. We give it new names: adultery is free love; the drunkard is an alcoholic; sodomy is homosexuality; the murderer is temporarily insane. Church workers fall into grievous sin and move on to new positions without repentance or change of conduct. Parents let down in discipline, saying, “What's the use?”

Pastors give up preaching against sin, arguing that the world's evils are here to stay and since church members are not going to be any better we might as well accept the status quo and live with it We see this mixture of light and darkness in television programs that join worldliness with hymns. We see it in Hollywood portraying the Bible.

The world lives in the dark because it rejects Jesus Christ the Light of the world: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (john 3:19). The word here translated “condemnation” is “crisis” in the original. The coming of Christ precipitated a crisis. It compels men in the very nature of things to come to the light or abide in darkness. This light shines in the Saviour: *7 am the light of the world . . .” (John 8:12). It shines in the Scriptures: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (psalm 119:105). It shines in the saints: "Ye are the light of the world!*' (matthew 5:14). “.. every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:20). That explains why some people do not come to church.

Vance Havner, The Best of Vance Havner

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