“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light,” said the Greek philosopher, Plato. But who could imagine anyone being afraid of the light? Isn’t light good? Isn’t it what illuminates the path of life and allows us sufficient knowledge by which we may make choices and know that we are indeed going in the right direction? In both a literal and metaphysical sense, what is light but an external factor that enables the mental apprehension of reality?
In other words, “What is light but that thing which makes darkness go away so you can see where you’re going and know what’s nearby so you can watch out for it!”
In a dark room, one flip of a switch produces the luminescence of light energy which, after it bounces off a particle of matter, can be received by special sensory cells in the eye which transmits data to the brain which then interprets the information and allows the rest of the body to respond appropriately. That way, theoretically, you can avoid stubbing your toe on the way to the kitchen to get a drink of water. That way, theoretically, you can keep from stepping on black Labrador Retrievers who think that sleeping in the middle of the floor in the middle of the night is infinitely more comfortable than resting in their doggy beds (I’m not bitter, in case you’re wondering).
In a more metaphysical sense, truth is light. It shows us where we’re standing, where we’re going, and what can hinder us in getting where we’re trying to go. In a spiritual sense, God is truth (more specifically, Jesus is truth). Through Him we can discern a higher reality than can be perceived via our natural senses alone. Through His Word (the things He has spoken to us in the Bible) He uncovers the ground on which we metaphorically stand, showing us if we are building lives on solid thinking and eternal insight or if we’re stuck in a rut of vain effort and meaningless endeavors. He shows us our ultimate destiny (whether we’re “in Him” through faith in Christ with an eternity of bliss in His presence, or we’re NOT “in Him” and are heading towards an endless doom of suffering and sorrow). And He reveals to us the reality of our sin condition (as well as our plight before a holy and just God), the idolatries that nullify fruitfulness in our lives; and the need we each have (myself included) to repent, return, and release to God my sin, shame, fear, and frustrations.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God” (Jesus in John 3:16-21 ESV).
Who then fears light? First, those who do not want to see their true condition. For many, being right is more important than being real. Pride lays upon them like an intense mantle of sensitivity that ignites in a moment a fiery indignation that will fight to the death to defend itself. Their true condition is so compulsively protected by rationalization, that the “truth” is the last thing they want to hear. I cannot deny that the “truth hurts” at times. How quickly I think of ways to explain away a misdeed or unkind word on my part, but the truth is… I sometimes fail. Admitting the truth, however, is like turning on a light so that a splinter of resentment or ego can be removed, by God’s grace, from my heart.
Also, they fear light intensely who desire to keep their motives and methods concealed. Just as the robber hates the light which reveals his entry into the sacred confines of your home, truth only hinders a spiritual predator’s efforts to take from others. In such cases, truth is a most wretched inconvenience.
Finally, they fear light who have become comfortable in darkness. Just as a sudden light being turned on in a bedroom elicits grumbling from my children early in the morning on such occasions as a trip with a lot of travel involved, we too easily find the darkness of an untruth relaxing since it is conducive to doing nothing. Those who could have prevented the Holocaust did not do so because they clung to the untruth that things were going to work out all right in the end and that people couldn’t stoop to such evil as was revealed in the horror of Nazi régime. The darkness of denial is as deadly a gloom as the grave itself and too many of us today have gotten quite comfortable in the mellow shade of ignorance.
Those who say they love Christ must understand that they are Stewards of the Light (sharers of the truth of Christ). They must guard the integrity the truth of Who Jesus is, what He has done, and what it means for all who believe (as well as for those who don’t). And those who say they love truth must ultimately come to Christ Who is the Personification of truth (see John 14:6) and acknowledge that He is indeed the Truth made flesh. To hide from Him, to deny His truth, to attempt to extinguish His light (not that there is anyone who can), is a true tragedy that endures into eternity.
“At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (Ephesians 5:8-15 ESV).
In an age of darkness, people need the light of the Person of God. In this era of deception, people need the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a time when people have no sense of hope, joy, or peace, they need their eyes opened to the illumination of God’s glorious presence and awesome love.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)