By Rev. Dr. J. Patrick Bowman
In horticulture, trees are classified as to the amount of light they need to grow properly. If you go to your local nursery you will see trees designated as needing full sun, partial sun, or shade. In nature, certain trees need shade to flourish. Some trees grow in all light conditions. Others prefer the morning sun only and enjoy being shielded from the hot afternoon sun. But the majority likes as much sun as they can get.
The leaves or needles of trees convert light energy into food by the process of
photosynthesis, enabling the tree to grow and develop. Lack of light will inhibit growth, fruitfulness, and overall health. In fact, leaves are arranged on a tree to receive the maximum amount of solar energy.
Light will do the same for us spiritually as it does for trees and plants in the natural
realm. Unlike some trees in nature, God made us to get as much of His light as we can. We were made to bask in the light of His love and thrive in it. We know about the light of the sun that warms the earth and provides light for vegetative growth.
But are we aware of the Light of the Son that strangely warms our hearts of stone and makes them hearts of flesh? This is the light that will feed our hidden parts and cause growth, health, and long life in our inner man.
Isaiah, the prophet, had some remarkable things to say about light in chapter 60.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but
the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the
Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Isa 60:1-
We know God created light (Gen. 1:3) and He is associated with light throughout the
scriptures. Isaiah exhorts us here to arise (grow) and shine (flourish) because our light (speaking prophetically of Christ) has come. He tells us that although darkness will cover the earth and its people, we will harbor a light within us that manifests itself on the outside; a light that will draw the nations to God brightly shining in and through us.
God has called us to be sources of light and also reflectors of light. Some days we might not feel like we are very bright. Many things in life try to snuff out our light. Even if we are having a “low-voltage” day, we can still be reflectors of God’s light by getting out in the sunshine of His love and walking on the path He’s prepared. His grace is there for us to keep on walking. And as the warmth of His Son-light shines on us and the winds of His Spirit blow, our flame suddenly flares up in a renewal of light within us.
The psalms have many passages that portray God as light. Perhaps the most well known is Psalm 27, where David proclaims:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Here David attributes God himself as his personal light and salvation.
In another favorite psalm, God’s light is attributed to His word:
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
There is no contradiction in God and His word both being described as light. As John 1:1 tells us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Just as we know a person by their word, we know God by His word; both the written word, the Bible and His incarnate word, Jesus Christ.
Other wonderful wisdom literature of the Old Testament also shows us the quality of
light. Here and elsewhere, light is often associated with God’s righteousness, and contrasted with lack of light; that is, darkness, wickedness, sin:
The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall
be put out (Proverbs 13:9).
Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 2:13, contrasting wisdom and folly, that light excels
darkness: “Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.” While these verses acknowledge the darkness, light is given the overcoming position.
Moving to the New Testament, we again go to the Gospel of John. This beloved disciple and friend of Jesus gives us foundational truths about light as it applies to God’s Son:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and
without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life
was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness
comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [the
Baptist]. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men
through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of
that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the
world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew
him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as
received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them
that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:1-13).
We see here that Jesus is God’s essential manifestation, or word of God, from the
beginning; active and sustaining in creation, and life-giving and light-bearing to mankind. The word was with God and is God. This Light was never first kindled, it always was. And it can never be quenched, it always will be.
Jesus referred to Himself as the light. In John 8:12 we read, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” Jesus is the life-giving light, the light that allows us to grow and flourish. But we must follow.
What does this following consist of? Is “following Jesus” just an abstract term we can
add our own set of qualifiers to and come up with our own path to follow Him? We read further on in John 8 that Jesus had preached and many Jews believed in Him. In verse 31-32 we read,
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The rest of the chapter tells of how indignant the Jews became over this statement Jesus made. They wanted to rely on their association in the flesh with Abraham rather than walk by the true and living way (path) Jesus offered. They rejected His word and by the end of the chapter, they were ready to stone Him.
If we think of light as intimacy with God, we get a clearer picture. Remember in the
Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God’s presence. They
tried to cover themselves with leaves and hide amongst the trees when they heard God’s voice call to them. Before they sinned they were naked and didn’t know it. There was no shame (Genesis 2:25). But because of sin, they feared the intimacy they had enjoyed with God and with each other. The Light of His love was no longer comfortable to them.
The light preference of human beings, unlike trees, has to do with the sinful nature we inherited from our spiritual parents, as well as free will and personal choices we make along the way of life here on earth. Quit hiding! Be honest.
Jesus was talking to a Jewish leader named Nicodemus in John 3:1-21 and was sharing
with him about the need to be born from above. In the course of this conversation, Jesus talked about those who would rather hide in the darkness of condemnation than come out into the light:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest,
that they are wrought in God. (John 3:19-21).
We have a choice in what we do with the light given us.
Do you remember hearing the song “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine?”
Jesus talks about this in the gospel of Luke:
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a
bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light
of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is
full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take
heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body
therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as
when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. (Luke 11:33-36)
Who would light a candle to see and then try to hide it? What if what is shown by the
light makes that man uncomfortable? What if he’s embarrassed about the dark places in his life and doesn’t want anyone to know about them? Jesus encourages us here to see the light, embrace the light, and let the whole body be filled with light.
In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he offers a prayer for enlightenment in the hearts of the Ephesians:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your
understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his
calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians
Wisdom, revelation, and knowledge all speak of light. Paul was praying for light upon them so they would know the purpose, path, and glory they were to walk in as part of Christ’s inheritance in them. It takes light for us to understand what God’s will is for us.
Again in Ephesians, Paul says this about light and how vital it is in our walk with God:
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the
wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers
with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord:
walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and
righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no
fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is
a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make
manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the
dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as
fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be
ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:6-17).
In the first letter of John, the apostle talks about God, the light, and gives us instruction how to follow this light:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the
light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of
Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:5-7).
John tells us that God’s nature is one of light with no darkness. So as God is light and is in the light with no darkness, we are to walk. We are to stay on the path and continue to walk in the light. The words path and walking depict the journey of life; where we’re going and our determination to get there.
Proverbs 4:18-19 says, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they
know not at what they stumble.”
The longer we walk on the path of the light, the more brightly we shine. Our first light
may seem like the dim light of sunrise, as it begins to replace the darkness we previously walked in. But just as the sun rises in the sky, we become more and more reflective of the light and life He gives us as we continue to walk with Him.
Questions for Reflection
- Would you say at this time you are getting all the spiritual light you need? If not, how can you expose yourself to more?
- We are to be both carriers of light (the internal dwelling of the Holy Spirit) and reflectors of light (the external manifestation of the Holy Spirit). How would you rate yourself as a carrier of light? Are you internally a bright or dim bulb? If you are a dim bulb, how might you increase your spiritual wattage?
- How would you rate yourself as a reflector of light? Is the Holy Spirit actively manifesting Himself to others through you? If so, in what ways? If not, how can you increase your reflective quality?
- Have you in the past, or are you currently trying to hide yourself from God or others because of sin in your life? How did you feel while you were hiding? Religious activities, isolation, denial, overworking, and many other fig leaves may work for a season to make us feel covered. But eventually, God leads us through conviction and repentance to forgiveness. If you are hiding now, will you trust God to renew you and clothe you with His righteousness?
- Do you sense areas in your Christian life that could use more of God’s illumination? If so write out this prayer of Paul’s for the Ephesians, inserting your name where indicated. Make it a daily part of your life to read the prayer and agree that God is enlightening your eyes of understanding, imparting to you more wisdom and revelation of who Jesus is, and revealing to you His calling for your life.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto __________
the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes
of _______________’s understanding being enlightened; that______________ may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:17-18)