People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for. -Harper Lee
When you set out to purposely find something, it’s interesting how apparent it becomes. I am looking for light. All sorts of light, really. It is a suggested Christmas activity in a book I am reading.
Of course, this time of year we see Christmas lights on trees, in neighborhoods and in shopping malls. There is sunlight, fluorescent light, and screen light from our many electronic devices.
There are lights that don’t physically glow, but instead brighten our spirits. They shine, for example, when other hurried shoppers make conversation with us or when we enjoy the outdoors. We feel them when we meet a friend for lunch, hear of a good deed, or spend time with family.
The word “enlightenment” itself contains “light”. Gaining insight from Scripture, meditating, or praying for understanding brings this light.
In the New International Version of the Bible, the word “light” appears 232 times, and closer to 300 times in other versions. Clearly, light reigns as an important theme in faith. What does “light” mean in the Bible, and how does it apply to us?
What does light mean in the Bible?
Light’s significance in the Bible starts immediately in Genesis 1, with the story of God creating the earth.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. Genesis 1:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
On the very first day, God set out to separate light from dark. Then, throughout the Bible, light continually refers to God and to the removal of darkness. It becomes a metaphor for many things including life, love, goodness, truth, and salvation. In the stories told, God’s goodness is always sovereign over evil. In no instance is darkness ever equal to the light that is God’s power.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT
Unquestionably for the Christian faith, God’s greatest work of light is Jesus. As the Son of God, his life models the way to live in God’s light.
The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9
Light in the Bible is synonymous to God and all of his good. Proclaiming faith in God’s light illuminates the darkness in our lives and works to extinguish it.
What does darkness mean? How can we find our way out of it?
When we think of darkness, we think of death and sinful, evil, or awful things. But, darkness may also exist due to a lack of knowledge, unintentional circumstances, or choices made. And, sometimes busyness, distractions, and self-centeredness can lead to us dark places as well. Life is good at dishing out darkness and we often find ourselves lost.
But, every day Jesus offers us a new opportunity, with no expiration date, to see and live in his light.
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
Taking steps to follow the life Jesus modeled helps us start seeing more light around us. We become more mindful and recognize when life is becoming muddled. We get better at noticing the slick spots around us and find surer footing to meet our goals. Bettering ourselves and serving others gradually become higher priorities.
Packed with Jesus’ words and teachings, the Bible lights the way as we walk through life. It reveals the things in this world that trip us up, and it shines light on every situation we come across.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT
We can find our way through darkness by following the life Jesus modeled for us. By learning about him and believing in him, we experience his guidance through the Holy Spirit.
Living in God’s Light
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” Matthew 1:23 NLT
This week we celebrate Jesus’ birth, an event which divided darkness from light in this world. His life delivered light and hope; his death and resurrection wiped away darkness by offering believers eternal life.
For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT
Jesus, Immanuel, is God with us. He shines through us by way of the Holy Spirit as we mature in faith and reflect Christ’s nature. We are works in progress while we are here. Through faith we can work to understand how God’s plans help us contribute to his light. We live in light through fellowship with God and with others who help us find goodness in a world that is often dark.
Christmas is more than festivities and time spent with family. It is more than understanding the story of Jesus’ birth. Christmas celebrates light – the light of Jesus, and the light of you and me. There is a lot of light in this world. It is found all around us and inside of us. We can see it. People generally see what they go looking for…
A Prayer for Your Week:
Thank you for another Christmas to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus, who brought light into our world through his life, his teachings, and ultimately his sacrifice. Teach us and guide us as we strive to model his character more each day. Help us to clearly see the opportunities you place in our paths to do your work, and to recognize the work of others. We pray to see your goodness shining bright in the midst of the darkness this world so often delivers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen