“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
I regularly open my eyes in the middle of the night to a shadowy form hovering over the side of my bed. I rarely bother checking to see who it is anymore. Instead, I simply direct whoever it is that wondered in towards the pre-made pallet on the floor beside me. But that’s because it’s become a little bit of a routine; almost all of our children take a turn every few nights, needing help and reassurance in the middle of the night. I used to be more jumpy, and I would startle awake, grabbing for a light to reassure myself it was only one of the kids.
I’ve been doing a little study on light in the bible, and these verses are full of comfort. With the internet, we have access to all the grief in the world, and it can seem like a dark place, and the darkness can be paralyzing. It can keep us from enjoying life in the present, and it can cause stress and anxiety that harms our health. To be mentally well we need clarity; we need to see clearly, and we need to have peace instead of stress. Light is important to see in the dark and to make sense out of life. God is light, and when we look to Him we can see clearly the meaning of life and our purpose in it. While everything else will change (the world, society, trends, our journey, feelings, ideas, and relationships) God never changes. If we base our hope and peace on anything that can change, we will inevitably be let down.
The search for hope and purpose is deeply rooted in our bones; we crave to have things explained and to understand everything around us. There are so many answers that promise peace and a greater understanding of the world, and while many of these can bring partial peace, they can’t fully satisfy and fill our needs if we continue searching blindly.
1 Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this age [the devil] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The devil, mimicking the light as best as he can, tries to convince people that a light can be found somewhere besides God. He is jealous of our love for God, and knowing his eventual defeat, he relishes in every soul who gets distracted by his false light.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:6) We were made to worship and glorify the one who made us, and we should give Him credit for every good thing in our lives. We should be in awe with how wonderful it is to be alive, and love Him for it. Are we choosing to follow a false light by giving credit for our peace and our hope to another person, a religion or church denomination, lifestyle, or even crediting ourselves?
Jesus said, “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) Jesus is the true light in the darkness of the world. Following him, we can see clearly, without confusion, the direction we should go and the path we should follow.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works, and give glory to your father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) We can enjoy knowing God and following Jesus the rest of our lives, but to ignore His direction to share that light with the world is like having a flashlight on a dark trail and not sharing it with others. This responsibility isn’t meant to be a burden. I think it often gets treated like an obligation or a responsibility for a select few. However, it should actually be a relief; it answers our question of purpose. We can be relieved and joyful knowing our purpose in this world is to shine the light of Jesus Christ to others who are searching for a light in the darkness no matter where we are on the daily.
Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path;
grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Jerome, c 342 – 420)