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!

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