We live in a world of light, darkness, and shadows. This is the inescapable reality of our physical world. We may experience only one of these, but the other two are closer companions than we often realize.

We also live an existence of goodness, evil, and uncertainty. We can experience one of these in its overwhelming pervasiveness, but the other two are usually nearby battling to be the supreme influence over our lives.

But God is light, perfection and goodness:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 TNIV).

And Jesus is God's most perfect gift! That's why Matthew sees prophecy declaring Jesus' arrival:

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned (Matthew 4:16).

But was that darkness — the spiritual evil and uncertainty and those shifting shadows of the spiritual world — real or was it simply religious metaphor, hyperbole, and religious fear mongering to manipulate superstitious people?

Yes, the darkness was real. Jesus confronted it at every stage of his journey. From Herod's determination to murder him as a baby (Matthew 2:1-18), to his battle with the demons who took over the man we know as Legion (Mark 5:1-20), to his attack by the religious leaders in the Temple (Luke 22:53), to his betrayal by Judas (John 13:2-30), and through his time on the Cross (Matthew 27:45).

Yet all that the evil one threw at Jesus failed. Darkness was defeated. Darkness could not extinguish the light of God in the face of Jesus:

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

Is that darkness real in our lives?

O yes! We see it in a million different ways in the brutality, evil, unfairness, brokenness, death, disease, disasters, exploitation, abuse, and violence that mar our world and invade our lives. That same darkness comes for us. It's knocking at our door and it desires to have us (Genesis 4:7). Paul describes it this way:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

This is why Jesus came: to bring light, to cast out the darkness, and to drive away the shadows. The baby proclaimed by angels, welcomed by Shepherds, and worshiped by Magi from the east brought God's light to all of us caught in darkness. Paul gave this promise to those of us who recognize this baby in the manger as our Savior:

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

So what do we do with this Savior, this grace, this light from heaven?

Heaven's light shines into this darkness and drives it away!
We receive it, we live in it, and we celebrate it. Most of all, we share that light! We are "the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference" he has made in our lives (1 Peter 2:9 MSG).

We live in a world of light, darkness, and shadows. Yet this child in the manger and this man on Golgotha's cross is also our Lord who left behind an empty tomb and ended darkness' reign over our lives. So no matter where you are or what is going on in your life, realize that God sent Jesus so we could know that heaven's light shines into this darkness and drives it away!

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