Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jesus, The Light of the World

My Buddhist friend says, “You have to have “darkness” (or evil) in order to appreciate the “light’.”

My writing teacher who wanted nothing to do with God said, ‘You can't only write “light”, you have to write mostly “darkness” in order for the ” light” to shine brighter.’

My artist friend whose husband describes them as “born-again pagans” insisted that I must paint more “darks” in order for the “lights” to “pop” (stand out).

Curiously, I’ve heard much the same thing from many church friends, “You have to have “darkness” in order for the candle to shine brighter.”

The Bible disagrees and so do I.

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) and John later wrote, God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

The Buddhists with their “yin and yang”, see dark and light, evil and good as equals to be balanced (incidentally, they put female on the same side as evil) but Solomon pointed out that light is better than darkness. (Ecclesiastes 2:13) Jesus came to dispel darkness not balance it!
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (1John 3:8)

In creative writing class, I made it my goal to prove that I could write about “light” more than “darkness”. I simply couldn’t dwell on darkness because as Paul said to the Thessalonians,"You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

Perhaps my artist friend gave up on me since I kept insisting that my paintings are about light, that there is plenty of darkness in this world already—I don’t need to add to it! (If you’ve seen my paintings, you know that I have no trouble getting my “lights to pop”!) As Paul exhorted the Ephesians, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11)

Physical science would probably refute my church friends’ candle philosophy but psychology would likely agree with their perception. But we followers of Jesus need to be concerned with what is true, not what seems. Many who are called by Jesus’ name (so many that it’s epidemic) believe wholeheartedly that God makes them sick or puts other evil things in their lives (one person even said that God makes people sin!) in order to “teach them something” or ‘bring them closer to him”! (see Matthew 7: 9-11) But the Bible continually speaks of Jesus bringing us out of darkness and into the light! (1 John 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4,6; Colossians 1:12,13; Isaiah 5:20)

We are coming into Christmas, the season in which we celebrate The Light of the World, Jesus. I’ve heard from two sources lately that it doesn’t matter if all the trappings of Christmas that we’ve come to value—saying “Merry Christmas” (though Charles Spurgeon said that, in his time, people were bothered by the “Merry” part) or nativity scenes (attributed to St. Francis) and are only left with “twinkling lights”. Because, they said, “Light is what we celebrate. The Father of Lights (James 1:17) sent The Light of the World (John 8:12) into a dark world (Isaiah 9:2) during the Festival of Lights (Chanukah).

Light has overcome and is overcoming darkness. Don’t try to balance it and don’t make darkness your friend.
“...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14)

This Christmas season, walk in the light as he is in the light and as Michael Card sings, “Celebrate the Child who is the Light”!

2 comments:

karenpower said...

Joan,

Keep on writing and painting THE Light! There is enough darkness around to make whatever you write or paint POP!

Blessings, joy, and Merry Christmas to you!
Karen

Sally Ferguson said...

Joan,
Great insight into an old problem; people think they have to "sin big" before they can appreciate grace. But Paul said, "Hogwash!" We all experience grace each and every day!
Blessings!