And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. John 3:19
Ask an American for a symbol which represents freedom and most will mention the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell.
Ask a Frenchman the same question and he will probably speak of the Bastille.
Originally built as a fortress during the Hundred Years' War, the Bastille Saint-Antoine was transformed into a prison, a place where political undesirables were sent. It was commonly felt that folks who went in never came out.
That's why when the leaders of the French Revolution were looking for a cause around which they could rally the people, freeing the poor souls of the Bastille became a top priority. Indeed, the day the Bastille's prisoners were liberated continues to be regarded as the birthday of freedom in France.
Now I know you won't be surprised if I tell you there is a rest of the story.
It seems that one prisoner, a man who had been locked in his cell for years, was also released. The crowd expected to see the man's heart filled with joy and his face beaming with uncontrolled gratitude. That's what they expected, but that's not what happened.
The man, accustomed to the dark, immediately put his head down and tried to shield his eyes from the sun's glare. Then, almost without hesitation he begged to be taken back to his hole. It was obvious, his heart had only one desire: to die in the darkness.
How's that for a sad story?
Even worse, on a spiritual level, that man's story is constantly being repeated.
For almost 2,000 years the Gospel has been preached. By the Holy Spirit's power, hundreds upon hundreds of millions have been brought to faith and acknowledged Jesus Christ as their personal Savior from sin and as the living Light of a sin-stained world.
Sadly -- and you can see them in the evening news -- there are those who love the darkness. God is reaching out to them, but they slap His hand away. Jesus died to save them, but they would rather live for themselves. They love the darkness and want nothing to do with the light.
Many years ago, I had a seminary professor who said, "Every man has the God-given right to go to hell if he wishes." These people, the people of the darkness, are making use of that right. This is why we need to remember these people in our prayers. We remember those we see on the news, and we remember those who are closer -- who are much closer -- to us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today my prayer is twofold. First, I give thanks You have sent Your Holy Spirit to give me the faith which has called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light. But I also bring before You the sad and sorry souls who prefer the darkness. If it be possible, bring them to faith before the final darkness descends. This I pray in the Name of Him who is the Light of the world. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries