|On a dark evening, even a little light makes a big difference.|
In my last post, I wrote about the indispensable, universal importance of salt for everyday life. We should consider light as well, very different from salt but also vital to life in all its forms – and similarly endowed with unique properties.
Among these are calorific (producing heat), actinic (serving as a catalyst for chemical reactions), and luminiferous (transmitting and yielding light). Whenever we walk around on a very cloudy, wintry day, or attempt to find our way around an unfamiliar room enshrouded in darkness, we realize the folly of underestimating the necessity of light.
We even talk about “seeing the light,” being able to comprehend or appreciate a truth, principle or insight previously hidden from our understanding. We talk admiringly about certain people with the capability of “lighting up a room” by their presence and personality. When people get attention, we say they’re in the spotlight, and if they gain fame, they’re in the “limelight.” (Does anyone ever get into the lemon-light? Probably wouldn’t be a good thing.)
|From the start, God declared|
light to be good.
Studying the Bible, light is clearly a central theme. In recounting God’s creation, it records His first spoken words: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3-4).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ never made light of light. Immediately after telling His followers, “You are the salt of the earth…,” He added, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). In addition to functioning much like salt in their spheres of influence, Jesus’ disciples were admonished to serve as light to dispel the darkness.
Jesus didn’t stop at informing His hearers they were, “the light of the world.” He described Himself in a similar way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). In telling His hearers that they, too, were to serve as the light of the world, Jesus was directing them to carry His light to dispel the darkness in the world around them.
Twice the Scriptures give us this analogy: Daniel 12:3 declares, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” And Philippians 2:15 warns against needless complaining or arguing, “so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
Nowhere, however, does God command us to generate light on our own; our calling is to reflect the light of Christ. In effect, we’re to be more like the moon, which possesses no light of its own, but reflects the brilliant rays of the sun, illuminating otherwise dark nights.
One would think that light is always desirable, unless you’re wanting a good night’s sleep, in which case a darkened room is often helpful. But as the Bible points out, there are those whose preference is to remain in the dark. Isaiah 5:20 declares, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Why anyone would choose darkness over light confounds most of us, but we see the reality of this every day. All we need to do is watch the news, skim through much of today’s TV programming, or observe what’s happening in our communities. Light may be hard for some, especially if they’ve been in the dark too long – its glare can be almost blinding. As a consequence, darkness seems the environment of choice for many.