“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
Remember that line from the popular, late ‘30s radio-drama series called “Detective Story Hour”?
Yeah, me neither.
I was actually not even a twinkle in my parents’ eyes at that point in time. In fact, they weren’t even born yet. But apparently, this was a big deal back in the day.
Over the years, there were comic books, TV shows, movies and the like that were all a part of this phenomenon. But I only heard about “The Shadow” this past weekend during a dinner conversation with a dear friend whose father owned a radio station when she was a young child. She had fond memories of listening to this program each weekend and even reenacted the melodramatic “Who knows what evil lurks …” opener for me. Good times.
The series, based on material from Detective Story Magazine, focused on the main character known as The Shadow. From what I can tell, he was a Robin Hood of sorts, bending the rules and doing what he thought he needed to do so that societal wrongs could be righted and so forth.
A couple of clicks away to the online, “free encyclopedia” known as Wikipedia (Yes … I know it’s not über-reliable, but you get what you don’t pay for, right?) tells us this:
“Clad in black, The Shadow operated predominantly after dark, burglarizing in the name of justice, and terrifying criminals into vulnerability before he or someone else gunned them down. The character was a noirish anti-hero in every sense. …”
So, I guess The Shadow concealed himself while trying to reveal what was lurking in the darkness. And that would be “evil.” “Eeeeevil. Like the froo-eets of the deh-vil.” (Sorry, I just remembered that line from So I Married an Axe Murderer, and it always makes me chuckle.)
Well, fast forward to the 21st century … to last night actually while I was sitting in Bible study. We’re near the end of Ephesians right now, and we weren't discussing The Shadow. But we were close. We talked about darkness and light.
What are the characteristics of each? Why is evil characterized as “darkness”? Why is Jesus referred to as “light” and why are we the “children of light”? How has the light of Christ made a difference in our lives?
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Instead of a quasi-villainous “Shadow,” as believers we have a perfect “Iluminator” who is righteous and gets rid of evil on our behalf. He is pure and true and shines the light, exposing the darkness in our hearts.
Thankfully, our Illuminator doesn’t burglarize or terrify or gun down anyone. Instead, as a Father who dearly loves his children, he shows us our sin. And with his presence in our lives, we can live more abundantly—bearing fruit and shining his light to others!
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.