God as Light

November 23, 2016 Randy Bushey

god-talking-to-us-1407465~ by Randy Bushey, November 23, 2016. 

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

What is light?

Light is energy that stimulates sight, making things visible.

It is electromagnetic radiation. It energizes, and when amplified as laser can cut, print, play DVDs and be used in military weapons and space telecommunication.

In physics, the speed of light is constant at 186,000 miles per second, and is therefore used to most precisely measure space, time, and physical mass.

God’s first recorded words in the Bible’s opening verses of the creation account were, Let there be light (Genesis 1:3).

But why did John use light as an analogy for God?

It seems strange to me that as one of Jesus’ inner circle disciples, John who had witnessed so much of the Lord’s teaching, would summarize God’s Being in this way. I can understand him saying, “God is love”, or “God is holy”…but “God is light”???

After all, John had heard the Sermon on the Mount; he had heard from the lips of Jesus the parables of Passion week; he had witnessed the Upper Room Discourse, the Bread of Life sermon, and the conversation with Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. He had recorded the conversations of Jesus with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus referred to Himself as the light of the world, but not once did He use this explanation for His Father, or for the Triune God.

And yet, John distills the teaching of Jesus to: This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light.

To understand the metaphor, the early church probably reflected on how John had used it in other writings. And particularly in his gospel, John’s usage taught 3 facts about God – each of which is on collision course with the typical 21st century worldview widely held in our culture.

#1: John used light as a metaphor for truth. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light (John 3:21). But our culture has an aversion to truth, at least a dislike for claiming to know the truth. According to this philosophical position, the claim of Christ when He declared, “I am the Truth” (John 14:6) as the most arrogant assertion by anyone, anywhere. Unless it was true.

#2: John used light as a metaphor for righteousness. In his dialog with Nicodemus, Jesus announced: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed (John 3:19,20).

#3: John used light as a metaphor for the Gospel, particularly from the mouth of Jesus: 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). I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness (John 12:46).

Takeaway: John’s brilliant usage of light to illustrate God’s character and His Gospel provides a full-orbed understanding of faith: the intellectual piece is truth; the moral piece is righteousness, and the theological piece is the Gospel of Christ.

May our lives be lived in the fullness of that reality.
~photo by Thiago Rodrigues da Silva, freeimages.com