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Week:01, Season:1, 2016 Posted on Saturday by PCT

The Light of Life

Scripture:John 1:1-9

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

The Word is the Origin of Lives

John 1:3 “God creates lives through the Word. Everything is made by the Word”. That is, the creation is generated by the Word. This explanation is a key theme in John’s Gospel.

Reflecting what happened in 2015, there was an incident of online bullying (online verbal abuse). Yan You-Yin, nicknamed “the New Otaku Goddess”, committed suicide in her house. According to her brother who had read her will, the main reason why Yan suffered from emotional instability was because of online verbal abuse. These anonymous verbal attacks seriously twist the truth. If you respond, you may even be more hated and attacked. It is so hard to imagine a person would commit suicide because of online verbal abuse. The world of the internet is certainly not all of your life. People you have met online would not suddenly appear in front of you and physically attack you. If you feel upset by online verbal attacks, just turn off your internet! Most people would say so. Nonetheless, look at young people nowadays whose lives are mostly occupied by the internet. You may understand this generational difference. Therefore, we need to read today’s assigned prayer and reflect this incident caused by online verbal abuse.

The Contrast between Light and Darkness

John’s Gospel: “The Word is the origin of creation. It is not only the pushing power for lives, but also the light of lives”. John 1: 5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it”. The text mentions two strong contrasts. One is about the concrete state of darkness, as a place without light. The other is about the dark side of humanity and spirituality. The latter does not present a concrete idea about darkness, but a perception or metaphor to denote a person’s heart. That is, what John’s Gospel wants to teach us it is not literarily the darkness at night, but the darkness in our hearts. Have we found any dark parts in our lives, hearts or characteristics?

John’s Gospel uses philosophical thoughts to explain real lives. The idea of darkness is one of them. It is used by the Gospel to perceive various life concepts. While it may be far-fetching to understand darkness as a life philosophy, it may be relatively easier to utilise the colour of nightfall “black” as a concrete metaphor for people to understand. Darkness as black is an incarnation of guilt in hearts. For example, remember the scandal of Dinxin last year? The oil produced by the corrupted Dinxin Company is widely called black oil. Without kindness and uprightness, everything will be overshadowed by darkness and light will become black. Without uprightness and kindness in a person’s heart, that heart becomes a “black heart”.

As for the light, it can represent the enlightened state of a human heart. The light refers to the God’s Word, the pushing force for life, and at the same time, the prayer. The salvation power of Christianity is like the light. When the light appears, the darkness is gone.

The Influence of Smartphone—the Anxiety of No Response to Read Messages

Why we mentioned the incident of online verbal abuse earlier? The incident can be explained as another dark side of young people nowadays. Today, social networking applications such as Facebook and Line almost dominate young people’s social time and everyday lives. In the era of Facebook and Line, to share is easy and everyone is entitled to the freedom of speech. Yet why do so many people still feel empty and fragile?

First of all, let us consider the effect of not responding to read messages on Line. In order to satisfy young people’s needs, my Church has established many Line social groups. Yet I actually feel annoyed by this move. If I did not reply to some unimportant messages, senders may ask me “why is there no response from you?” Then I would like to respond to them with “Why must I reply? Why must I read your messages? If there is something important or urgent, why not explain, clarify or talk in person or by phone?” It seems that the insecurity of encountering non-responded messages has become a dark side of modern people.

Secondly, lives represented by Facebook or other online social applications don’t always match realities. Real lives are continuous without interruption 24 hours a day, and interwoven with so much reluctance, quietness, and loneliness which cannot be represented by online pictures and posts. When we log in to Facebook, the posts are often interesting and likable and pictures all have been processed by APP. However, in reality, not every moment is this beautiful and our life difficulties cannot be beautified by APP. The “I” presented by Facebook is always a specially filtered “I”. These “I”s often only share the happiness of lives, such as food or traveling. Nonetheless, except for these online filtered happy moments, real lives are full of conflicts, fragility, and unknown dark sides of human hearts. Therefore, some people describe Facebook or other online social networks as ‘film trailer’, which only shows the ‘best parts of a film’, whereas reality is like the ‘whole film’ which contains both ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. When our posts did not receive ‘like’ from other people, would we still be active online? Would we modify our posted lives on purpose just for gaining a superficial ‘like’?

Last, online posts and pictures to a certain degree have limited the depth and width of our emotion. We seem to only allow cute pictures to express our feelings, but forget that emotion cannot totally be expressed by online pictures. Gradually, human interactions would only be stimulated by cute, animated characters. In the era of online social network, something still cannot be shared by online pictures and do not need to be measured by other peoples’ approval by clicking “like”.

The Darkness of Insecurity in Life

The author of John’s Gospel points out that “the light is real and it shines on all human beings”. The light means enlightenment. A Psychology doctor suggests that “We should develop our children’s minds as being happy, and the central of positive thinking. In this way, when s/he grows up, s/he would possess enough EQ to face online verbal abuse or school bullying”. From a professional doctor’s point of view, we see the possibility of positive thinking.

Today’s prayer mentions that believing in Jesus Christ can enlighten our minds and expel darkness from our hearts. How should we practise this? In the new year, except for learning positive thinking, and developing optimistic attitudes by having faith in the God, we should also pray the following, “Dear Heavenly Father, may the light from your beloved son Jesus Christ shine and enlighten my life. Then I can overcome the darkness in my heart. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”.

For discussion:

1. Please share any incident in relation to the darkness of humanity? How are you going to change it?
2. Please share what experiences in your life have had negative impacts on you?
3. Please share your experiences of using online social networking websites or applications. What are the positive and negative influences on you?

Please pray for:

1. those who have experienced online verbal abuse. Pray that they may be freed and healed by gaining God’s love.
2. our own darkness. May we be conscious of our guilt and pray God will expel darkness from our minds and fill our hearts with love instead.


Loving God. Thank you for leading me to become a Christian. We pray for more salvation light from Jesus Christ to overcome the darkness in our hearts. Let us learn how to share the benefits of prayers and the Gospel with those living in the darkness. We pray to Lord that you will help us use wisdom to live our lives. In the beginning of this new year, we pray that you will give us the wisdom from heaven and teach us to plan this year according to your will. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Something you can do:

1. In the beginning of this new year, aim to decrease your reliance on the internet and pay more attention to the people around you.
2. Share your experiences of believing in God and how this has changed your life: with those, including your family and friends, who haven’t believed in the God yet. Particularly, share with them how Jesus Christ’s love has expelled the darkness from your life.