ODJ: driving out darkness

January 18, 2016 

READ: Luke 23:33-43 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5).

In early 2015, a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma in the US was caught on video singing a deeply offensive and racist song. Reaction by university officials was swift and stern, and rightly so. But what did Isaac Hill, president of the school’s Black Student Association, have to say? After all, the chillingly racist chant had targeted African-Americans.

Stunningly, Mr. Hill recommended that the offending students be forgiven. If you’ve seen the video or heard the appalling lyrics of the song, you likely understand just how radical his counsel was. When a news anchor pressed him as to why he didn’t want retribution, Hill replied, “It is not smart to fight hate with hate. It is only logical to fight hate with love.”

That wise and rare advice finds a connection to the ethos that guided Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” he said. “Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

In turn, those words point us directly to Jesus, of whom John said, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:5). Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught His followers a radically peaceful set of principles. Then He lived it out to the very end, confounding Pilate and embracing crucifixion when He could have defended Himself. In Luke we read these jarring words: “They nailed him to the cross” (23:33). It was then, at that awful moment, that Jesus said these amazing words: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (v.34).

When we experience hate, it’s natural to hate in return. Jesus showed us the better, supernatural way—the way of His love.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Genesis 28:10-22

Read Luke 22:49-52 to see how Jesus reacted when Peter defended Him with a sword. 
How do you react when you encounter hate or personal attacks? Why is it vital for you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in order to respond like Jesus did?