November 14, 2013 Unapproachable Light
I absolutely love this time of year. Since I was a young teen, the fall has been my most favorite season. There is something nostalgic about it, a little sad, a little happy. As the trees lose their leaves, fall can be a reminder of death and all things lost. On the other hand there is the promise of new life as creation prepares in the bearing of seeds with a promise of warmer weather in the spring.
But even more than that, I love the beauty of it all. Each tree is bursting out in bright colors. The sounds of kids playing outside. The crisp cool air in the morning, and the warm afternoons. I love the earthy smell of fresh fallen leaves being crunched, the memories of the season. Warm soups, thick sweaters, and comfy snuggles.
….and that’s just to name a few.
I even enjoy how the light changes. Sure, I’m ready for bed by 8:00 every night, but have you ever noticed that the sun is brighter in the fall and winter? There is less daylight, but on a cloudless day the sun is piercing bright. The sky is even a different shade of blue. No matter what time of day, the sun is beaming bright. Like, blinding, headache, get me some shade bright. You can’t see when you drive. It’s warm and pleasant, but the light is so intense.
Light and darkness are very familiar literary elements. Nearly every movie, story or situation comes with the familiar contrast of dark and light. It is used in every culture, every religion, and many sayings and quotes. Even right now you are probably thinking of two or three (or more) ways that the theme of light and darkness is used.
This is especially true in Christian teachings. a quick search easily turns up over 300 references to light in the Bible. Jesus called his followers to be the light of the world. I think just about every person in the US can sing the folky song “This Little Light of Mine.” So what I am about to share with you is nothing new. It’s a familiar teaching, but for more than the past year it has resonated with my very soul.
When you encounter the Light of the World, when it exposes the darkness with in you, it also will set you free. How’s that, you might be asking….
When Saul- who was a hater of Christians and the Way- set out to personally do what he could to stop the spread of Jesus’ life story, he encountered first hand the Light of the World. Not only did it completely change his life, but it turned the entire known world on its head. Saul changed his name to Paul and went on to write 2/3 of what is known as the New Testament.
There has always been discussion among Christians about what the central theme the Paul wrote about. What was the overall main topic that Paul felt was important to teach to other Christian believers. This is done by comparing all his letters that he wrote with very different purposes and find one (or say) main idea. Some have argued various themes as being grace, justification, faith, Lordship of Christ, etc. I would say yes to all of the above. Another theme some debate is that Paul’s central theme is the “in Christ motif.”
Hold on…huh?? I thought this was a post about fall- you might be asking.
um, yeah- remember that “resonating with my soul for over a year” thing I mentioned? That should have been a clue.
So what is “in Christ Motif”? The theme “in Christ” is seen from Paul’s meeting Jesus on the Damascus road. Jesus said, “Why do you persecute me?”, but he was in heaven at this point. As Saul was trying to take out the Christian people, everything he did to them he was doing to Christ. Why? Because as a believer the Holy Spirit lives in you. Salvation isn’t some “thing” to do to check off your bucket list. It’s a commitment, an asking to die to yourself, and live your life for Christ. It’s a LIFE changer! Everything that I have as a Christian, everything I do, I am doing directly to Christ. (This is why obedience to the Word is important. It’s proof of my faith in salvation, but does not give me salvation from sin.)
Are you still with me?
As I was reading the NT (New Testament) I came across this verse,
“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NIV)
Immediately my heart went to the passage about Paul’s conversion. That moment that turned his life upside down:
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”……..
…… 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. Acts 9: 1-6, 15-18
Later, in Paul’s life, he shares this same account before a high official he shares these details about his testimony:
13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.
I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:13, 17-18
I would argue that not only did the challenge and encounter with Jesus change Saul to Paul, but he understood the lights significance . This isn’t just a literary theme. You can never know the freedom of light if your don’t realize the depth of darkness that you dwell in outside of Christ.
As part of my year-long meditation I did a little research about blind cave fish. Scientist believed for a long time that cave fish were born blind thanks to Darwin’s theory. What they have found, however, is that the fish develops a full ability to see, but a gene attacks the “eye” causing a scale to form over the eye, and thus causing blindness. (Is it ironic that the word used to describe Paul’s healing from blindness is “scales falling”?) Another interesting fact about blind cave fish is that they have found that the gene that causes blindness is not there if blind cave fish are cross-bred with blind cave fish from another region. In one generation, the offspring can be seeing cave fish.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, Colossians 1:13
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14
In no way is that suppose to be an exhaustive list of the use of the word “light.”
Every person is held in bondage, wrapped in scales. Some like it, others are completely unaware of it. We never can know the beauty of things we can’t see. I invite you to take the first step into the light. Ask God to open your eyes; it will change your life.