Go Ahead, Light Up!

(Luke 11:33-36 NKJV) "No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. {34} "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. {35} "Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. {36} "If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light."

Light is a constant theme through the Gospels. Jesus declares that He is the Light of the World. John 1 tells us that He is life, and that life was the light of the world which was in darkness. There is also the stern warning that even though this light had come into the world, yet the world did not receive it because its deeds were evil.

The Greek word used for this word means literally a shinning forth, a manifestation, even translated sometimes a "fire". Jesus reveals this "light" on the mountain of transfiguration.

(Mat 17:2 NKJV) and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

It is this uncreated light which God wishes to put in us in order to unite us with Him. That is ultimately the goal of our Christian life. This is why Jesus tells His disciple, and even us today, "You are the light of the world...."

Even the Church liturgical year is based upon the light/dark contrast. Some people have felt that the celebration of Christmas was simply the adaptation of a pagan feast to the Sun God. Though that was no doubt part of the Christian plot, to Christianize these pagan people by turning their feast into Christian celebrations, neither was that the only reason, maybe not even the primary reason that this day was chosen to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

The liturgical cycle starts out shortly after the longest day in summer with the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. From here on the days began to get shorter and shorter reflecting the "I must decrease and He must increase" attitude of John the Baptist, who Jesus also said that he had a light (John 5:35) yet He was not The Light (John 1). It is shortly after the shortest day of the year that Christmas is celebrated, because now the light is increasing. The Light has come into the World. Then comes the celebration of the resurrection, which is celebrated after the point which the light of the day overtakes the dark of the night in length. By early Christian practice, it could not be celebrated before this point. This is directly because the celebration of the resurrection is specifically a celebration of the victory of the light over the darkness; life over death. Then shortly before the longest day of the year we celebrate Pentecost, the giving of the Spirit and the birth of the Church. The full manifestation of the light was at hand.

In this passage, Jesus tells us that our eye is the lamp of the body. What does this mean? In a literal sense, even with what we know of biology, what would we experience without our sight? Darkness. We would not be able to see where we were going, feeling our way along. For our body, our eyes gives light to our world. Without our eyes, we are greatly handicapped. Have you ever wondered why there are so many stories in the Bible about Jesus and the Apostles healing blind people?

It is because this goes beyond just physical "light". It goes to the light of the soul. As the sun burns forth in a blazing light which gives life to our planet and to our physical bodies, so the uncreated light of Christ is meant to enlighten our souls. It is to give life to our souls and help us to see the whole world in a new and greater light. But if the eyes of our souls are bad or defective by being full of evil, then our souls will not see that spiritual light. We will have eyes, but cannot really see.

Jesus had the light around Him all the time, but the disciples could not see the light until that time on the mountain that Christ revealed it to them. The servant of Elisha could not see the flaming army of angles surrounding the enemy until Elisha prayed for him to see the spiritual reality. The reality is, through the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, that the Light is in the world. Any of us can experience it. Any of us could have our spiritual eyes healed and no longer be blind to the Spirit. But what does this take?

It takes eyes full of humility and repentance. It takes eyes ready to be purified by God. In the main Scripture, it talks of the eye which gives light to the body as "good". The Greek word there is more specific, meaning oneness, unity, single focus. It is a unity with the will of God and singleness of purpose with Him. Like Paul, it is the "this one thing I do..." devotion to accomplishing what God has laid out for our salvation. When we can do this, then the light all around us can be seen in our soul. The grace of God is all around us, we appropriate that by seeing with the eyes and hearing with the ears of our soul.

No doubt, either on purpose or by accident, most of you have happened to have watched the cartoon "Pinky and the Brain". For those who may not have, the whole plot revolves around one central story line: the attempt of Brain to take over the world each night. Most of them end with Pinky asking, "What are we going to do tomorrow night Brain?" And he almost always responds, "The same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world!"

There is one thing he gets credit for, single-minded persistence despite the odds. If we were asked that question, what would we say? Would it be with St. Paul, to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Would it be that even though we had not yet attained, we struggle with all that is within us to be united with Christ and have that life-giving light shining in our souls? Or would we answer that we are going to Disney World to waste our lives away in the magical kingdom of sin?

If there is one thing we do this new year, may it be to keep pressing, keep working, keep becoming grace-empowered to unite with Him and be filled with His life-giving light. Only then can we become that light of Christ that shines in the darkness of other's lives. For Christ's light is revealed through us. It is seen in each other. Once you can see Christ in all who are around you, that light will be able to shine through you. You will have set your light where others will see it. In this, God will be glorified and the witness of the Light will increase.

In His grace,

Rick