Light of the World
Having laid the groundwork on the importance of definitions (as per the preceding post), I would like to suggest that Christians should mean what they say and say what they mean. Getting the definitions right is only half the battle won; what ensues demands a purposeful and deliberate application of those terms.
Familiarity, after all, often begets a sense of apathy. Common phrases dull in significance as their familiarity grows, and what we’re left with is a dictionary of Christian jargon that loses its substantive meaning over time. The ‘light of the world’ is one such expression. We throw it around often and write songs about it, but never stop to think what it truly means.
Light as Life
The Apostle’s assertion is clear: Jesus was the life-giving source behind all creation, and there existed no other life-giving source apart from him. In him was life. Creation was no accidental emergence of organic life from a void in spacetime. That’s like the scientific theory for when your mother would ask you to shut your eyes, count to three, and magically produce chocolate out of thin air.
How can all of life be created by One Being? Because life was in him. God created the world out of the abundance of life in him. And John calls this life – the light of men.
Now, the use of the word light is a metaphor. Both light and darkness are vivid symbols that hold profound implications. Light embodies sight, life, glory, hope, righteousness, and peace, while darkness signifies blindness, death, depravity, despair, sin, and turmoil. Here, the Apostle symbolises life itself as light. Subsequently, if life is our light, then death will be our darkness. If light is life, then darkness is death.
A Dark World
Our world, by biblical accounts, dwells in darkness (Ephesians 5:8), immersed in corruption, bound for destruction, and consumed by wickedness. It is Jesus who emerges as the true light, grace, glory, and hope descending into this murky world—a beacon amid the shadows, our rescue from the dark.
This then is the unassailable quality of light: darkness, in any shape or form, cannot vanquish it. Unless you turn off that lamp by your bedside, your room cannot descend further into darkness. Apart from the cessation of the light, darkness has no victory. It simply cannot overcome the light as long as it is turned on. Therefore, this metaphor is more than adequate to capture the reality of the life that we have in Christ and the spectre of death. For a Christian to be overwhelmed by death, there must first be a cessation of life in Christ. However, Jesus is God, and His light never diminishes. Consequently, death holds no prospect of overwhelming this life in Christ.
Yet, darkness permeates the entire world. Consequently, the natural man can only boast of his blindness, death, depravity, despair, sin, and turmoil. Now, one might question how the world can be described as darkness when all things were brought into existence by the light of Christ, and nothing came into being apart from Him. The answer, Romans 5:12.
The Corruption of Sin
Yes, the life in Christ was the light of all men. However, the darkness of death made its entrance through Adam’s fall, casting its sinister shadow. This grim reality underscores the gravity with which Christians confront sin. Sin is what is wrong with the world today, and those who live by the flesh glorify it and oppose the light (Romans 8:5-7). Never has there been a pandemic as fatal and dire as sin on a global scale. Its pervasive infection spares none, ensuring the certainty of death. This shroud of darkness remains unyielding unless the light descends.
And it did! In the Advent of Christ!
The Apostle gives us the intention of this light
The light of Christ created all things. Everyone owes their allegiance to him. However, so corrupting was the stain of sin that not even his creations could recognise him. But all who did receive him, who believed in his name, were given the right to become the children of God. This means that the natural man, the Adamic heir has abandoned their right to be called the children of God. There is no light in the natural man and he dwells in dark places.
The born-again experience is ‘Post Tenebras Lux’ – after darkness, light.
The Gospel is a message of light – of sight, life, glory, hope, righteousness, and peace. This advent season then is a reminder that Christians are the enlightened ones who can live under the light of Christ.
You are the light of the world
And in a strange turn of events, Jesus calls us lights,
Not only has the light from heaven come into our darkness and enlightened our hearts, but has also set our hearts ablaze with that same light so that we might be lights in this dark world.
We are the people who posses this abundant life, and Christmas is a celebration of that life we have in Jesus Christ.
This blog post is loosely based on the second chapter of my upcoming book – Come All Ye Weary.
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