“Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.” (Ecclesiastes 2:13)
Speaking of the Styx River, the ferryman who took the souls across was named Charon. Contrast that with the word chiaroscuro. That word literally means “light, dark”. Chiaroscuro is an art term that refers to the distribution and balance of the light and dark tones in a piece. The ‘chiaro’ meaning ‘bright’ and ‘warm’ and the ‘scuro’ giving rise to words such as ‘obscure’ and (further back) even ‘cloud’. As with most things, there’s more than one way to look at this.
“And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Because that’s who he used to be before he fell. Jesus says (Luke 10:18): “I beheld satan as lightning fall from Heaven.” The name ‘Charon’ has nothing to do with the first half of ‘chiaroscuro’. And whereas the Styx river and the Greek underworld connote nothing but suffering and hopelessness, the opposite holds true for the root of ‘chiaro’. It’s from the same root as ‘clarity’ in Latin. This all might sound obscure and merely anecdotal, but consider. If Jesus Himself says that satan can “transform” into an “angel of light”, we’d do well to identify the source of the light that we see. That may well be a hard pill to swallow but know that God fully understands our desire to substantiate and substantiate, our faith. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it would do us good to run a sort-of spiritual and mental spring-cleaning—an audit as it were—to ensure that we’re on the right track. “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” (Ephesians 5:14) In other words, the true light, from God, will reveal anything less that we’re operating in and on. Before satan fell, Isaiah chapter 14 (12-14) delineates the details leading up to his fall: “How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Lucifer, as it said in Isaiah, sought to rise above the clouds and “be like the most High”. Apparently (and I don’t mean to be flippant), that was a no-no. His name meant “son of the morning”, not “morning”. Only God holds that title and it’s never been up for grabs. Interesting thing though, and I digress, Jesus says that “every one that is perfect shall be as his (and her) master”. I can’t pretend to fully understand the implications, but it would seem that Jesus has given us the opportunity to become like Him in a way that even angels don’t have access to with the way they were created.
So we know that light may not necessarily be a good thing, spiritually speaking that is. Maybe we should term it differently. I mean, ‘light’ has a pretty positive connotation. And many people have a hard time believing that something that seems so good would turn out to be the very thing impersonating Jesus, the “true light” as John called Him. The Holy Spirit is here to help.
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9, emphasis mine)
Contrast the above with this: “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23a)
Darkness, on the other hand, isn’t all bad either. The ‘scuro’ part of ‘chiaroscuro’, comes from the same Indo-European root as ‘cloud’. There are some clouds that are downright beautiful to behold. Some clouds refract the sunlight within and provide a rainbow without rain. One morning, I saw a bright unbroken rainbow with two yellow streamers breaking off midway through the arch. It hadn’t rained at all in the night yet the sky was covered with a blanket of lumpy clouds.
“Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2)
Now, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), but getting there? It very well may take a turn for the dark and stretch out for miles and miles and years of obscure darkness before you realize that your were approaching God. So was that darkness a bad thing? It’s all in how you look at it and it’s always darkest before the dawn. God appeared to Abram in Genesis 15 (verse 12) after He had made the Covenant with him: “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” That’s pretty scary. The thing about it though is that God had some pretty bad news for Abram. After just having told him of his abundant offspring, God had to tell the other side. The thing Abram wanted most was an heir. Isaac was the son of that promise, that Covenant. But the great, great, great grandchildren of Abram (now, Abraham) would be enslaved due to the opression of Egypt. There’s another side to it, a chiaroscuro. A balance of light and dark.
Here’s the thing: God is Love. But God is also just. And while Jesus soaked up all the justice of God when He suffered His atoning death for man’s sin, God’s love was able to shine in a fuller way than ever before. But it doesn’t mean that He still isn’t the same judge He’s always been. A “way of escape” has been provided for us in the person of Jesus. The only thing I can recommend is knowing and loving Jesus personally. Everything balances out then because He knows and loves you. And you know and love Him.