My mind wanders to dark places…thoughts enter my head that make me shudder. I then begin to try and determine their origin. I wonder if it’s a book I’ve read, a movie/show I’ve seen, a conversation I’ve entertained, a song I’ve heard, maybe even a food I’ve eaten. As I try to determine how these things enter into my consciousness, I become conflicted within myself. I begin to ask myself, “Am I truly a Christian? Am I just fooling myself? Am I a total and utter hypocrite? Am I a fake?”
I ask myself these questions because I assume that a true believer would not have the mental struggles that I have. No way on earth did the Apostle Paul have the same thoughts. No way on earth would Corrie Ten Boom, Martin Luther, MLK Jr., or Billy Graham have these ponderings. I couldn’t even imagine people I had gone to church with over the years dealing with the same kinds of things.
What are these thoughts, you may be asking…well…I’d rather not say. Suffice it to say that they are very unpleasant. Sometimes they revolve more around me and then other times around others. They range in severity from minor personal criticisms to…well, I’ll not go any further than that. Perhaps you have a similar issue. Maybe you’ve dealt with the same kind of darkness. If you cannot relate, then that’s awesome, but for those of you that can (I hope there really aren’t any), I get it…I feel the struggle along with you.
As I already said, I begin to try and diagnose the issue and take inventory of my life as much as I am able. IN FACT, I had this very thing happen just a couple hours ago and as I was trying to determine the starting point of this plague, a few passages of Scripture jumped into my mind. First of all, Paul wrote in the end of the seventh chapter in his letter to the Romans that he was a “wretched man.” He had just made a case for how much of his evil nature he still struggles with. This is the Apostle Paul, the most prolific writer in the New Testament. Then, I was reminded of another passage, Matt 15. There was a belief that touching or taking in certain things would make someone impure or unclean. Jesus totally overturned this ideology when He said that it wasn’t what entered in to someone that made them corrupt, but what comes out of them that shows their corruption. He said that things we take in go through us, but things that come out come from our hearts, the central aspect of our identity.
It’s important to make something clear—these verses are not a proof text for taking in anything we fancy at any moment, whether it be a substance, a form of media, or even an idea. However, they are very much making a case that even if we never took in anything bad, negative, or “unclean,” we would still have this darkness welling up inside of us. We could live in a totally isolated existence, even within our own minds, and evil would be present. The reason for this is that the origin of evil or rebellion or darkness is hidden deep within each of us. It hides in our hearts…and the secrets in our hearts are, at times, quite disturbing.
So where do these dark thoughts come into my mind from? My very own heart. I’m literally my own worst enemy. The heart that craves redemption is also the heart that craves corruption.
Where do we go from here? What hope is there? Last verse that came into my mind: Romans 8:1. It says that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ. This is not a license to rebel more. It is a truth that liberates us from feeling the weight of condemnation and the anxiety of reprobation. In other words, because of Jesus, I have nothing to fear, and what’s more is that He isn’t going to leave me…even though He knows how dark my heart can really be.
*Image taken from: http://deskbg.com/view/321/