In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
– Jude 1:8-13
“As for we who are a spiritual creation by virtue of our souls, when we turned away from You, O Light, we were in that former life of darkness. We toiled amid the shadows of our darkness until, through Your only Son we become Your righteousness [2 Cor. 5:21], like the mountains of God. For we, like the great abyss [Ps. 36:6], have been the objects of Your judgments.”
- St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Confessions (Book 13, Ch. 2)
About a week ago, in Summer Sports, I mentioned that something seemed wrong that France would win the World Cup wearing black uniforms. The uniforms had dark blue sleeves, but black is not one of the colors of the flag. The excuse was that the Croatian team has red and white checked uniforms and the French could not wear red or white. But in past World Cup competitions the French have worn the traditional blue jerseys, white shorts and red socks. That makes sense. But they had black uniforms and other teams also had black uniforms at the World Cup including Croatia.
Adding white as an extra color has been tradition for some time. The University of Michigan colors are maze and blue, yet they have white jerseys as an alternate color. The University of Mississippi uses Red, Blue, and Gray, but they have white jerseys as an alternate color. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s black and gold, yet their away jerseys are white. For contrast on the television screen and on the field of play, that makes sense.
Of course, uniform manufacturers are always trying to introduce something new in order to boost sales of uniform shirts to the fans. But why introduce new colors? And why, if you introduce a new color, the color seems to be black?
But in recent years, the added color has become black. I think it comes from psychological analysis as to favorite colors. People like black. It always comes down to making money.
We seem to be romancing the darkness. You might say, “It is only a color,” but I live in the greater Pittsburgh area. The three major professional sports teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers (American football), Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball), and Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL Hockey). All three teams have black as part of their uniforms. The Penguins started out with light blue, and they have returned to the color on occasions as a third alternate jersey, but the city flag is black and gold. Yet, the people of the city choose black as their color.
When we first moved here, I would ask our younger son about high school aged children in town. He was a high school senior when we moved here. Of those who always wore black, some were goth, some were Marilyn Manson fans, but the majority simply wore black in support of local sports teams. No one seemed to wear anything gold. The away jerseys were white. Maybe one fan in a hundred had a white uniform jersey.
For Pittsburgh, it’s normal to wear black. I find it odd that gold is not used much, but for Pittsburgh and a few other places that have used black uniforms traditionally, it is okay – sort of. After all, the predominant color of the city flag is black, probably from the rich history of the local coal mines.
Then Philadelphia, on the other end of the state designed a black jersey for their American football team, the Eagles. The Philadelphia Eagles had uniforms that were green and white, originally. In a redesign, they made the green a bit darker and added a trim color of silver. Where did the black come from? Other teams have followed that trend.
When one particular coach was hired by the Atlanta Falcons, they suddenly shifted to black uniforms and helmets. The coach portrayed himself as ‘the man in black’. Sorry, Johnny Cash, he was not. Yes, the original colors included black, but only as an accent against the red and white. But for many years, the uniforms were mostly black while before, red was the dominant color. Thankfully, they have returned to the red uniforms.
Traditional black is not my focus here. Let’s look at Clemson University. Their colors were red, white, and blue, but practicing on the red clay hills, the uniforms became orange. Without color-fast dyes, the blue became purple. Their school colors, for pragmatic reasons, became orange and purple. It is a rich tradition, but if the school decided to go to black uniforms, my opinion would be that their decision would simply be wrong.
Okay, it is only a color, but I think that it speaks to the psychology of this broken human condition.
We, as a human race, are identifying with the darkness. We want to blend into the shadows. Our philosophy about breaking the law is that if you don’t get caught, you did not break the law. It is the case when speeding down the highway in your black automobile. It is the case when you shoplift. Is it not part of shopping in a grocery store to eat fruit while walking through produce? If no one says anything, who is to know? Right? Everything done in the shadows.
I always knew that God knew, but maybe that is what the romancing of the darkness is all about. If we wear black, we can hide in shadows better. Maybe God cannot see us.
God can see you, but I sure can’t. When I was working full time, I would go to work in the winter before dawn. People in my neighborhood would be scraping frost off their windshield. They never – and I seriously mean it when I say ‘never’ – they never look and stop when cars pass by. They simply step out in front of you. When they are wearing black on black on black, you cannot see them. I know that God sees them though, because I have gotten a strange sensation that I should slam on the brakes. Then, I see why.
The Scripture talks of Cain (Genesis 4) who killed his brother Abel. Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16) is also mentioned. Thousands died as a result. The story of Balaam (Numbers 22-24) is well-known because Balaam’s ass (King James) or donkey (NIV) talks to Balaam. Balaam is finally captured and killed by the sword in Numbers 31. Balaam never spoke a curse against the people of Israel, but he accepted money to do so.
The sin of these people seems to center around thinking that they know better than God as to how to run this world. Of course, each thinks primarily of themselves. Jude 1:12, in the Scripture above, says that. They are shepherds that only feed themselves.
Did they, the people like Cain, Korah, and Balaam, think that they could get away with it? Maybe if they wore dark clothing and stepped into the shadows. Maybe that would work, but no, God has reserved a place for them that is the blackest darkness.
Why is it dark there? It is the one place in the universe where the light of our God will not shine.
As for me, let me go toward the light. Revelation 21:23-25 states, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”
Be careful about being too enamored with ‘black’. Heaven is filled with light.
For my adopted area of Pittsburgh, I apologize to anyone that may be offended. Black is a standing tradition in Pittsburgh, but to win the World Cup of soccer (football to the rest of the world) in black uniforms when their colors are bleu-blanc-rouge (blue-white-red)just sent me on a tangent.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.