Tag Archives: Light

Got a Light?

Next time you are lost in the woods at night, being chased by bloodthirsty monsters (Happy Halloween!) notice that a flashlight might keep you from tripping, but it can’t show you the way.  That’s because you are holding it and you are lost!  What you need is to follow a guiding light from a safe place, a light that doesn’t change it’s direction if you get confused or turned around.

In ordinary life the same principle applies, even though it is sometimes harder to see the monsters and we don’t realize how lost we are.  Isaiah knew the problem with trying to light your own way:

But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.  (Isaiah 50:11)

And he had the solution.

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.   (Isaiah 50:10)

John Newton discovered the truth of that and was later inspired to write, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” (Amazing Grace)


My friend, Jacques (not his real name), hated Christians – that is, until one day he met Jesus. I don’t know how that happened, only what happened next: Jacques and his wife sold everything they owned and gave the money to the poor, keeping just enough to get them to Denver and pay for one semester of seminary. You should have seen how God took care of that amazing couple. When we graduated, Jacques couldn’t be bothered with the ceremony; he had to get to Haiti as fast as he could to work among the poor. Jacques and his wife left Denver the same way they came, took the first plane to Haiti and started helping people. He picked up some gnarly Haitian disease and died not so many months later. Jacques shone like a welder at midnight.

Jesus said:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Not many of us are called to do what Jacques did. But when we follow Jesus, wherever we are, we are meant to light up the place. Jesus talked about acts as simple as a cup of water for someone who is thirsty. Light shines.
It is important to understand Who does the shining. In Jesus’ day, the light from a lamp was fueled by oil. No oil inside, no light. We are filled and fueled by Jesus’ Holy Spirit. Let Him do the shining.

The Light You Shine

John wrote in a confusing way about an “old command” that is a “new command.”  (For more about that, see: John vs. John Lennon)  The “old command” (Love your neighbor) is made new, by Jesus redefining what love is.  Jesus’ kind of love, the “new command” He gave, is simple to describe but impossible to do.  Love, He taught, is a choice to put aside what I want in order to minister to what you need.   Sounds simple, but it is impossible on our own, because we are wired by our experiences in this world to “take care of number one” as a number one priority.  Jesus’ kind of love doesn’t make sense in our world; it only makes sense when you see the world through His lenses, His “logos.”  That Greek word, weakly translated in English as “word,” really goes way deeper.  It describes a whole mindset and understanding of reality.

When you read a book, and are observed doing so by your dog, your “logos” of what you are doing is very different from your dog’s “logos” of what is happening.  See that?

Jesus’ commands fit beautifully when you understand His “logos.”  In a very real sense, His commands are a part of His way of seeing reality.  That is why, in 1 John 2:7, John wrote, “This old command is the message (that’s the word, “logos”) you have heard.”

When you live in Jesus’ logos, His kind of love emerges in what you do, not from self-effort but from the Holy Spirit, living within you.   (See: Who Can Fix It?)  That is why John wrote about this “new command”:

…its truth is seen in him (Jesus) and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  (1 John 2:8)

John said that the light of Jesus shines in those who have come to Him by faith.  Already.

You are probably thinking, “If this means I must perfectly resemble Jesus in every way, I’m so far off that mark it’s hopeless…”  Don’t freak out.  Instead, look carefully at the verbs in verse 8 above:

… its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness  is passing and the true light is already shining.  (1 John 2:8)

When someone surrenders to Jesus by faith, receiving His gift of forgiveness and fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit begins to live within his or her soul, as God always intended.  (See: Who Can Fix It?)  In John’s words, “the true light is already shining.”  However, that person is still profoundly shaped by all of life’s experiences and illusions.  Those habits, personality traits and outright addictions don’t simply vanish.  John says “the darkness is passing.”  

Picture a bright light shining in a room full of smoke so thick you can hardly see it.  A window is raised for fresh air to blow through the room.  The smoke is passing, but the light is already shining.

Jesus shines through the life of those who have fully trusted Him.  They are not perfect; they may not even be aware of how He is doing so at any one moment.  However, “the truth is seen,” John says, in Jesus and in you, too.    That’s how we know we know Jesus.  That’s how they know, too.

Light Reading

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)

What is Light?   To a physicist light is electromagnetic radiation, radiant energy shining out from a source.  If you are lost at night, light is hope.  Artists know light as the ultimate medium.  A philosopher might equate light with truth.  A mechanic needs light to know why your car makes that screeching sound. A prisoner in solitary knows light is life.

John says God is light – completely.  There is nothing of God that resembles darkness at all.  Consider:

Morally, light is perfect righteousness, absolute purity:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,  Isaiah 5:20a

God reveals Himself through the prophets as light:

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, (Proverbs 6:23)

God sent Jesus as The Light:

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth, I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.  (Isaiah 49:6)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he 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)

John Mayer, singing about his struggle to do the right thing in Gravity, makes this plea:  “Keep me where the light is…   keep me where the light is…”   f