Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Light of Day

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

                        Genesis 1.3

Act I

Our drama begins in pitch black. We peer through the darkness for the tiniest glimmer of light—a distant glow, a tiny pinpoint—finding none. Absence of sight tunes our ears to hushed undulations of a vast body of water. We think we’re at sea on a starless, moonless night. Tension builds for what’s to come. The delay lasts an eternity. As our hearing sharpens, we’re convinced it’s not the sea. No waves swell and recede, tides wax and wane, or currents break and swirl. The water is still, silent, with no life of its own and none below. The sound we hear is a gentle whisper brushing the water’s surface. Though we can place its position and follow its sweep, it mysteriously sounds as if it’s everywhere at once.

Our curiosity turns from the water to what hovers above it. Hearing becomes secondary now. We’re gripped by the sense of presence—a Presence, an Emanation of unparalleled gravity and substance that also contradicts gravity and matter by occupying all time and space. Mere intuition of this Presence heightens our awareness It is Life Itself. We’re lost in It but neither confused nor afraid. We belong to this Presence. We come from It. Once we understand this, the movement stops. Silence hangs in the darkness, anticipating the Presence’s opening line. It pierces the stillness with authoritative, infinite power: “Let there be light.” Brilliance shines forth, chasing the darkness below the far horizon to illuminate what, as of this moment, remains an endless aquatic expanse. The Presence calls the passing darkness “Night” and the rising light “Day.” With daylight, we look for the Presence only to find It nowhere in sight yet inarguably visible anywhere we look and revealed in everything we see.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

                        John 1.1,4

Act II

Day follows night and night follows day in an endless, predictable cycle. The first six of them burst with creativity as the Giver of Light transforms the aqueous cosmos into a universe, lavishing one planet with an extraordinary array of life forms that includes a human uniquely designed to reflect His presence and serve His purpose. Everything He creates is perfect and remains perfect until the human’s arrogant attempt to be like God introduces a new kind of darkness to the story. It lingers day and night, causing humanity to stumble blindly from crisis to crisis, trying to hide from God and hoping to find Him at the same time.

Out of bottomless compassion, God repeatedly issues laws we must obey to dispel the night we created. But each new edict compounds human error and the darkness thickens, compelling God to devise a better solution. He visibly enters our drama as a man named Jesus, fulfilling an 800-year-old pledge He made through His prophet: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9.2) He honors His word by becoming The Word, which John describes as Life and Light Incarnate. Jesus shatters death’s power and our darkness, closing this second act on a triumphant note—and opening the question of whether we will see the light of day and choose eternal life. The choice may seem obvious, but Jesus says it’s not: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3.19) New life and light require new attitudes and habits. After playing supporting roles in the first two acts, the third places us center stage.

For you were once darkness, but you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

                        Ephesians 5.8


The curtain rises on crowds of people searching for shadowy corners to act on base impulses and pursue dark pleasures. The brightness and reach of Christ’s light depends on how well we perform. When we shine, He shines. And when He shines, those intent on harming others and themselves suddenly see what they’re doing. They hear the Voice that first called for light speaking directly to them. We need not be told this; we’ve experienced it first-hand. We were once darkness. Now we are light in the Lord. It’s our privilege and responsibility to live as children of light. 1 Peter 2.9 describes us like this: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belong to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Choosing to see the light and answering God’s call away from darkness ends in being chosen and called to bring light to others. Our drama isn’t over. God alone will decide when it ends. But whether the final curtain falls tomorrow or ten thousand years from now, we play decisive roles in how it ends. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we conduct ourselves as children of light, emulating our Father and echoing The Word. Let there be light!

As children of light, we call for light that chases darkness from sight.

(Tomorrow: Going Through)

Note: Two online Bible studies are happening THIS WEEK. Click on the link at the top of the right column to find out more.

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