Light of the World

sunrise through fog

Sunrise through Fog

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life. (John 8:12)

Light!  What is light?

Is light energy?  Is it rays?  Is it waves?  Is it particles?

Yes, all of the above…and, yet, none of the above.  All of these are theories to explain certain properties of light, yet all fall short of fully explaining all of the properties of light.

Based on classical (Newtonian) physics, we would expect that if two objects are traveling toward each other at given constant speeds, then the relative speed of one, as viewed by the other, is the sum of the speeds of both objects.

Light, however, defies the principle of relativity.  The speed of light remains constant no matter how fast the observer is traveling, and no matter what direction relative to the light source.

Until Einstein, light was viewed as an unexplainable exception to the principle of relativity.  Einstein, however, demonstrated in his Generalized Theory of Relativity, that in order to accept the speed of light as constant (a proven fact) we must also view time and distance as relative, rather than constant.

The nature of light is so constant, and so nonconforming to our expected behavior of the universe, that we are forced to consider all other things as relative in comparison to light’s constancy.

In more recent years a new branch of physics has emerged, called quantum physics.  I won’t pretend to understand quantum physics.  In fact, I’ve heard of a saying among quantum physicists, “If you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t.”

What I do know about quantum physics is that it originates, in part, with attempting to understand another property of light.  Light passing through narrow slits projects certain patterns on a surface.  These patterns are understood to be a result of wave behavior, with adjoining waves cancelling each other.  However, the same wave patterns emerge even when the release of light is controlled to one photon at a time, making cancelling impossible…based on conventional understanding…

Based on their study of light, quantum physicists are exploring theories that view our natural world more as probabilities of multiple possible outcomes, rather than as solid objects and concrete realities.

The more we come to understand the nature of light, the more we realize how little we understand.  And the more we pursue understanding the nature of light, the more we are forced to adapt our understanding of the rest of the natural world in view of what we learn of light.

No wonder Jesus declared, “I am the Light of the world…”!

Until Christ, Bible scholars largely viewed scripture as a system of precepts one must follow in order to please God and gain salvation.  For every life circumstance, a written edict was sought to address the legality of choices made.  The result was a system of inflexible rules devoid of mercy, grace, empathy, or relationship.  The meaning of true justice was lost in rigid adherence to legalistic rules leaving no room for mercy.  Scholars gained renown, not for godly attributes, but for legal arguments and ability to scripturally defend their stated position.

Then Jesus Christ appeared on the scene…

He of whom the Apostle John said, And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)

…of whom the Apostle Paul said, For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)

…and of whom the author of Hebrews said, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power… (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Christ came to show us the nature of God, not by written word, but by His own character and behavior.  Jesus Christ demonstrates the heart of God by how He treated people…by His consistent loving compassion.

The more we come to understand the nature of Christ, the more we realize how little we understand.  And the more we pursue understanding the heart of Christ, the more we are forced to adapt our understanding of the rest of scripture in view of what we learn of Christ.

We cannot understand Christ relative to any interpretation of scripture.  Rather, we must always adjust our interpretation of scripture based on our increasing understanding of the nature of Christ.

“What would Jesus do?” is truly a question we must constantly ask ourselves.

When our theology leads us to harbor attitudes of disdain toward others, to see others as less deserving of salvation or more in need of God’s grace than ourselves, or to pummel hurting individuals with inflexible legalistic rules, it is a sure sign that we have ceased to recognize Christ as the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World!

Your comments?

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20 thoughts on “Light of the World

  1. Christ as light – as radiance. Yes! How nice to think about that in terms of science; what we understand, and what is still beyond our grasp. It gives me a certain comfort to know that while we struggle to define something as basic as light, God knows – and Jesus knew, when we said, “I am the Light of the world.” It means more, the less we understand “light” – !

    • “It gives me a certain comfort to know that while we struggle to define something as basic as light, God knows – and Jesus knew, when He said, ‘I am the Light of the world.'”

      Yes! I find such a depth of meaning in that statement, largely based on my knowledge of our lack of scientific understanding of the properties of light. The people Jesus was speaking to at the time had no way of knowing that…but Jesus did!

      I love how God’s Word is so rich and full, speaking to each generation, even as new scientific knowledge is acquired.

      Thank you, Courtney!

    • Absolutely! Learning God’s heart and asking God to live out His heart thru us are really inseparable, aren’t they? Like two feet taking turns taking steps…

      Thanks for adding that perspective, Barbara!

    • That’s interesting that your dad saw similar correlations, Dan.

      The study of light, in general, and quantum physics, in particular, definitely has an other-worldly feel to it…something that defines physical laws rather than conforming to them…or at least that refuses to conform to our classic understanding of physical laws…

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. What Would Jesus Do?

    Would he do this .. http://bit.ly/TQwENN
    or this .. http://bit.ly/SUqQ6B
    or how about any of these (save 1 or 2) .. http://bit.ly/Y4vndk

    If not, then it would seem that Christians have a long way to go before they are anything their Christ. Although this religion seems to have made some progress since archaic times, it’s quite evident that there are still a few kinks to work this plan.

    Thank you for all of your help, friend. But I’m not quite ready to “drink the kool-aid” on this one. There’s a big difference between preaching and doing. Perhaps one day more Christians will recognize this. When they do, I’ll be waiting.

    • No, He would not. And that’s precisely my point.

      When our theology leads us to behaviors or attitudes that don’t reflect Christ’s love, compassion, and humility, we’ve missed the whole point.

      Jesus Christ is the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. To know the heart of the Father, we must study the character of Christ.

      Our interpretation of scripture must begin and end with studying and imitating the character of Christ. Everything else must be understood in the context of Christ’s character, and how He treated people.

      Whether or not you ever join a church is not terribly important. I pray that Christ will teach you of His love and compassion.

      Praying for you, NWM!

  3. Science and Theology often don’t mix, but you’ve blended them amazingly here, Joe! And it has shed light on who Christ is and should be in our lives and hearts. Thanks for this reminder to let Christ shine in grace-filling, light-spilling ways. 🙂

  4. This is so fascinating, Joe! Even though it makes my head hurt 🙂 I’m thankful I don’t have to have all the answers. Resting in the arms of the one who does…

    • Yes, it’s a tough concept to wrap my mind around.

      But then, I seem to have made it a life goal to pursue a deeper understanding of the inexplicable…while simultaneously contenting myself with the sure knowledge that the more I learn the more I’ll realize how little I understand… 🙂

      Thank you, Laura!

  5. “When our theology leads us to harbor attitudes of disdain toward others, to see others as less deserving of salvation or more in need of God’s grace than ourselves, or to pummel hurting individuals with inflexible legalistic rules, it is a sure sign that we have ceased to recognize Christ as the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.”

    Well said. Both Paul and Jesus were clear about the law being summed up in love. When our doctrine has us being unloving- we obviously are doing it wrong.

  6. Light is constant. God is constant. Jesus is the light of the world!

    Thanks for pointing out your post, Joe. i love how science is pointing to what we knew the mystery of already. (If that makes sense.)

    Although — I would argue that the laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus are not “devoid of mercy, grace, empathy, or relationship” … the whole point of the laws that Moses (and later the priests) gave to Israel is to keep them in right relationship with God and with each other (within the context of the times.) I found their quarantine rules pretty enlightened for a time that didn’t know what germs or viruses were. The laws of Jubilee, for example, prevent accumulation of wealth to the detriment of the Israelite poor.

    Now I would argue that their cleanliness laws possibly went too far (especially for women) but they did their best in handling what they didn’t know the science of and I can see the logical extension of going from pussy sore to other liquids leaking from the body being equivalent. Aristotle would probably call them on that though 😉 .

    And also, if these laws are devoid of these things, why does Jesus quote the top two? Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength… and love your neighbor as yourself (this latter a neat summary of the other 9 commandments).

    What Jesus came to do was to set us free from the inflexibility of those laws and to remind us to the purpose of them, so that we could fulfill the spirit of the law. He shines a light that takes us beyond “but what if….” or “that person who is Other surely isn’t …” and simply says: “Love.”

    • Oh, I completely agree, Leanne!

      God’s law is not devoid of mercy, grace, or relationship. However, the Pharisaical system of legalistic rules based on their interpretation of God’s law was devoid of mercy, grace, or relationship.

      To keep from falling into the same trap as the Pharisees, we must continually learn to view scripture in light of Christ’s character portrayed by the record of His life….and by Christ’s command to “Love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.”

      It is by how well we keep the two greatest commandments that we can gauge how close our theology leads us to God’s true character.

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