Seeing the light

The Holy Scripture is quite a sophisticated body of literary merit.  It is filled with imagery, foreshadowing and metaphor.  In the words spoken by the Lord himself we see how He uses them to paint pictures with his parables which show us critical truths of our faith.  One specific element which is mentioned many times throughout just about every book of the Bible is light.  This element takes physical and spiritual forms, and it is used even to describe our God.  By reviewing only a handful of these passages, we can arrive at a greater understanding of the meaning of light in the word of God and in the reality of our lives here as well as in eternity.  Let us take a few moments to allow God to show us the proverbial light, that we would have our knowledge and wisdom illuminated by him.

Gen. 1:3-5

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

It is incredible to believe that there once was a time during which light did not exist on the earth.  Considering that the earth was formless then, we might argue that perhaps there was not much to see anyway. However, even a formless earth with no life was still a creation of God worth admiring and experiencing.  Fast forward a few days in the creation process and there was much more to be seen.  From the birds of the air to the trees of the mountains and the flowers of the fields, God created the only landscape we have yet to know and touch.  For those who have been blessed with the gift of sight, the world around us is so much more.  You see, it is also a gift that God created the light of day to illuminate his beautiful creation and allow us to experience its beauty with our eyes.

After speaking light into existence, God noticed that it is good.  If we think about this in the context of mankind, one thing it tells us is that He wants his creation to enjoy the world that He has created.  Not only that, God is a showman. What He has done with this world is incredible, and that work should be on display for all to see.  Not only do we see the glory of his design here, but the angelic host bears witness as well. Light is what draws attention to this wonderful creation.  There are several other ways by which our senses can take in the world, but seeing it is a unique experience.  We can say metaphorically that our Creator does not want to keep us in the dark, but we can say this literally as well.  It is the light God created which makes it possible to stand in awe and wonder of the creation around us.

Jam. 1:16-17

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

We have just read how God created light for this world.  We know that in addition to the sun He also created the moon and stars.  Even in the dark of night there is natural light to help guide us.  In this passage James calls God the Father of lights, which seems to be similar to acknowledging that God created light.  If we think about fatherhood, however, creating a child only happens because a part of the Father is in that child.  Calling God the Father of light tells us that light contains a part of God which comes from him.  He did not create light the same way we create a car or table or building.  God created light the way we create offspring, which means that light actually is part of the substance of God.  This idea is bolstered by the fact that there is no variation or changing shadow in him.

There is no dark place in God; He is only illumination.  What this tells me is that God is a welcoming and available presence.  He is lit up for all to see and search out, one who desires to be seen and discovered. Although there are secrets which may take time for us to learn, the things which are hidden in God are still hidden in the light and not darkness.  This is because our Father wants to share his secrets with us. He is not a wizard behind a curtain hiding his true self.  God is exposed because He wants to be exposed, and He invites us to take the necessary steps to come to know him.  The same way that He has illuminated creation for us to experience in an intimate way, that is how He illuminates himself.  Even when we take up refuge and hide in him, it is in his constant and reliable light.

John 1:6-10

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

This reference to light has several different components to it.  First, the conversation moves from physical light to spiritual light.  The sun, moon and stars reflect their light on the world around us so that we can see it. In similar fashion, Jesus came to reflect his light in the spirit so that we could know and see the spiritual world around us.  He came to illuminate necessary truths and show us the way.  There is surely a common purpose between the sun and the Son.  One allows us to see and experience the physical while the other allows us to see and experience the spiritual.  The light of Christ chases away spiritual darkness around and inside us, and it allows us to see things as they really are in the spirit.  We need not be afraid of the dark, feeling our way through this faith journey.  Jesus came that we would be able to see our way through it.

Second, being the only begotten son of God, Christ is made of the same substance as his Father.  John does not say that Jesus had light but calls him the light.  The same way we find no physical darkness in God, we also find no spiritual darkness in him.  The account of the life of Christ shown in the scriptures is one of a life lived only in the light.  We can find no fault or blame in him.  We can find no hatred or malice in him. Every word, every deed and every thought of his was spiritually pure. That is why his life’s example is so critical for us.  We may have our own ideas of what it means to be spiritually illuminated and live with God’s light as the driving force behind our character, but we cannot follow our own ideas.  What we must follow is the manifestation of pure spiritual light in Jesus Christ during his time here.  That is how we have to live in order to chase out every speck of darkness.

John 12:34-36

So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”  When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

We had just completed our first section of the Appalachian trail, and we were about to set up camp for the night.  The sun graciously stalled its dissent until we arrived at the pinnacle, but we would need light to navigate the area and organize our site.  While we were playing around instead of working we were approached by a small group of hikers who had gotten lost and needed to find their way back to their car in the dark.  We would have to take them down a different trail at least one mile until they reached a point from which they could navigate on their own.  The lights we had packed became critical for us as well as for them because we had to find our way back to the pinnacle after leaving that group on the trail.  We realized quickly that exploring the mountaintop was not a good use of the finite light we had.  The better use was to get our camp situated while those lights still worked.

The light of Christ is among us now, but it will be among us in this capacity for only a little longer.  We do not have an eternity at our disposal to find it and become a part of it.  There is a set period during which justification is an option, but that time will come to an end one day.  God’s window of grace will shut, and some will be left in the dark.  For those of us who already have become children of light, our time of sanctification also is finite.  There is much to do and much to change during our days here, and time is of the essence.  While we have access to the light for the purposes of building ourselves and in that way drawing others to its brilliance, let us take advantage of that time.  Our appreciation of its precious nature is shown by our desire to use God’s holy light faithfully for the purposes of his kingdom while we have the opportunity.

Eph. 5:6-10

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

In our physical world, light can be truly transformative.  I was one of those kids who was deathly afraid of the dark until late in my elementary school days.  I recall having to ascend the stairs knowing that I could not turn on the light until I reached the top.  I would run so fast to that switch as if something would get me if the light took too long to come on.  Falling asleep in a completely dark room also was terrifying to me.  I sincerely believed that each doorway, each closet, each small space under a bed housed a frightening sight.  The only solace was placing the covers over my head and hoping to nod off quickly.  In the morning, however, the light of the sun transformed that hallway and that room into safe and quiet spaces, but the only thing that had changed was that I had the peace of being able to see that there in fact was no reason to be fearful.

When we go from being children of darkness to children of light we experience incredible changes.  Like the little boy in the dark who finally sees the light of day, we realize that there is nothing to fear.  The light of Christ shows us the truth behind all of the lies the enemy has tried to instill in us these many years.  It exposes the evil schemes which exist only to deceive and destroy us.  This spiritual illumination shows us the truth about God, our enemy and ourselves.  What it also does is make us agents of that same light.  We now are equipped to share our new enlightenment with others, to encourage them by revealing this same truth and peace to them.  Walking in the light while we have the chance is not only about our path but about every path we have the gift of being able to influence.  We have the ability to walk in the Spirit of God in the midst of all this darkness, and we would be incredibly foolish to waste that ability while it exists.

Isa. 60:19-20

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.

It may seem like a paradox or an impossibility, but the light we see today is only a shadow of God’s light.  He is much more brilliant than the sun, the moon and the stars put together.  When we think about how difficult and dangerous it is to fix our eyes directly on the sun above, it is nothing compared to how these natural eyes would feel if we tried to look upon the pure light of God.  From a physical perspective, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Even the warmest, brightest days pale in comparison to what awaits those who will live in the light of God for eternity.  We have been given a taste for the moment, but we one day will dive in for a full meal.  Not only will God be our light, but darkness will be no more.  The only thing we will see is light because darkness will serve no purpose.  Things will come full circle, and all the light that God has imparted to his creation will return to him, and He will be the only source.

From a spiritual perspective, we will see light overtake the darkness one full and final time.  Fear will be no more.  Pain will be no more.  Deception will be no more.  Hatred will be no more. Loneliness will be no more.  Anxiety will be no more. Worry will be no more.  It might be difficult to imagine, but we will spend eternity in a place devoid of every negative thing we have ever known.  That will be a place where evil might not even make any sense to us anymore.  Humanity began life in a garden where only the knowledge of good existed, and we will be restored to life in a city where God’s goodness reigns supreme.  Not even the slightest shadow will survive there.  God is ushering in the physical and spiritual sovereignty of light over darkness.  This is no fantasy and no dream.  The place in which we yearn to arrive will be the final evidence of our Savior’s victory over darkness and death.

Light reveals the truth.  For those who have nothing to hide, they welcome its illumination.  For those who have hidden dark secrets, they run from exposure.  For those of us who love the light and crave its warmth and comfort, we have the hope of basking in its purest version for eternity.  Concerning those who hate the light and do not desire to be seen, we still have hope that God will use us to illuminate their lives and lead them to the revelation we have had.  The days will grow darker as we continue to approach the day of the Lord, but the faithful will see the light of Christ also grow brighter in them during that time.  Each day here is one day closer to full restoration and illumination of all things.  With the short time we have, let us use the light we possess to the fullest extent in its fullest power that we can add to those who share in this great hope of ours.  Let us commit to being faithful stewards of this light while we have the chance to use it to effect change.