Dear church,

When God said, “Let there be light,” we think about the enormous implications of “light.” 

We think about the power of light to make us see and to give energy for the growth of vegetation. We understand what it means to be walking in a dark room and then to turn on the light – how everything is different once we do. 

And we know the power of the sun as it dips to the south each winter, leaving us cold and under snow. And when it returns in the spring, the earth warms up and trees sprout leaves and the grass grows green. This, too, comes from “light.”

But Scripture doesn’t leave “light” in the realm of the physical. Not even close. “Light” is more than that. 

Light is associated with the presence of God (Exodus 34:29; 2 Chronicles 7:1; Revelation 22:5). It is connected to the plan of salvation and is linked directly to the Messiah (Isaiah 9:2; John 1:9; 8:12). And it is bound to the concept of God’s Word. We can hear Amy Grant singing, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). We may think of light as God’s revelation of himself to the world (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Yes, light is something more than we see with our physical eyes.

Light also marks out the people of God (Isaiah 42:6; Matthew 5:14). Yes, in the opening scene of the Bible – “Let there be light” – we are reminded there is a people of light. And God had them in mind from the very beginning. 

In the church, we are “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5). I take this to mean we are people living in the presence of God. We are saved, and we know the Messiah. He has been revealed to us. And we are guided by his commands and promises. 

To come in among the people of the church is to come in among the light.  

We are likely to encounter many problems with this concept. The church, filled with the sinful people it contains, sometimes can feel like darkness. Bitterness and rivalry and selfishness and silence can mark out the church, and it no longer feels like light. 

And so some run away and declare they are still the “light,” off on their own little hill, shining for the world. “Let there be light,” for them, means something small and individual – like a flashlight. 

But we know this cannot be God’s intent. The isolated “light,” content to be separate from others of the “light,” is a contradictory thing. This is because if there is any virtue connected to the Person who is the “light of the world,” it is the virtue of grace. Some might call it forgiveness. Others might declare it to be reconciliation. “First be reconciled to your brother …” (Matthew 5:24).

We can’t be the “light” without grace, forgiveness, or reconciliation. To “let there be light” is to let these things, which were fully embodied by the “light of the world,” rule our hearts. 

And so what about the church, full of its sinners and its occasional ego-maniacs? What happens when we come in among the light – the “children of light” – and feel darkness closing in?

We push the darkness out. We see it for what it is. We don’t become discouraged. By the light of God, we dispel it. 

We forgive. We work for reconciliation within the church. We have hard conversations, again and again if need be, until we actually begin to feel like the brothers and sisters that we are. 

I am convinced this is not as hard to do as it may at first seem. It is Satan’s lie, the great deception of the world, that makes Holy Spirit-filled believers think we are so desperately far apart from one another. 

The darkest deception is the one that tells us it is better to leave than to open our mouths with words of reconciliation and to trust in the God who can lead us there.

“Let there be light.” Perhaps that is a prayer we ought to pray as a church. 

Chris

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