A simple piece of advice also reveals a principle central to Christian living.
“…and the life was the light of men.”
Always keep a flashlight handy in your home or workplace, or when you travel. Keep it accessible, and keep it powered. You never know when you might need one. This may sound like Common Sense 101, but light really can save your life. So, unsurprisingly, light is one of the most important concepts in the Bible.
Never take light for granted. It is one of the basic needs of life. Even in the black ocean depths, untouched by daylight, there are life forms that use light, and are equipped to produce “bioluminescence” for a variety of functions. Plants need it. Animals need it. You need it.
Flip a switch, and you bring one of your most important senses to bear against unseen dangers—and there are many creatures that find bright light very inconvenient. Some of the peskiest critters bolt at the first ray of sudden light—like raccoons and other nocturnal invaders, and the ubiquitous cockroach. Light can be even more useful for keeping human pests and animal predators away.
Light also provides safety during emergencies, when cars break down at night or power grids fail and we find ourselves stumbling in literal darkness—but that is not the only darkness in which we stumble.
The Apostle John wrote concerning Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1–5). In this passage John clearly identifies Jesus as existing long before His conception on earth, and as the true spiritual Light of mankind.
The word “light” in these passages, phos in the ancient Greek, literally means “radiance” or even “spiritual illumination” in some cases, and is derived from the root word phaō, meaning “to make manifest.” And, when John said that this light shone against the darkness (the ignorance and waywardness of this world, Romans 1:20–22), the darkness could not comprehend (or overcome) it.
As you can see, this was a very powerful light. In what ways does the light of Christ, and the knowledge of God’s ways, illuminate life and chase away shadows?
Matthew 18:15, one of the most underused scriptures in the Bible, shows one way. By bringing a matter that offends us before a neighbor, rather than concealing it and trying to get our own way, we “shine a light” on the situation, and at the very least act with transparency (John 3:20–21) regardless of the other person’s actions.
God’s word, too, shines the light—through instructions about prayer, especially what the Bible calls intercessory prayer (1 Timothy 2:1–3). Fervent, sincere prayer made by those obedient to God’s will “avails much” (James 5:16) and will not go unseen by God. Diligent prayer even for those who may be your enemies goes a long way with God (Matthew 5:43–45). If we force ourselves to make the effort, the path to forgiveness, resolution and true peace of mind becomes clear and well lit. We shine the light of mercy on others, and in so doing, God will shine it on us (Mark 11:25). There are few better ways to chase away the shadows of emotional turmoil and resentment—and the greater the resentment, the greater the relief.
Finally, the Gospel offers the true knowledge of the way to repentance and salvation. When God calls someone into His family, He makes the way known through the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 3:4–6). This revelation comes directly from God, and cannot be comprehended without His help. But once God shines this light into your eyes, and you trust in Him (Isaiah 50:10), the door is opened for you never to walk in darkness again.
That light is more precious than any other, but it comes only with a calling and a great cost, and must never be taken lightly. Is it being offered to you? If God’s call is beginning to light your life, do not delay—act on it while you can!