January: John 1
“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 anything made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. “
Jesus was and is the light of the World. John the Baptist was sent “to bear witness of that Light…he was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”
The gospel of John, written by one of Jesus’ most beloved disciples, includes an important history of Jesus’ cousin and advance man, John the Baptist. John, the author of this book and many more in the New Testament that bear his name (1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and traditionally, though not definitely, the book of Revelation,) was a disciple of John the Baptist and, according to this account, honored John the Baptist’s inspiration and knowledge so completely that when told by the Baptist that Jesus was “preferred before me,” John the author, immediately accepts this and goes to follow Jesus along with Andrew who finds his brother, Simon, known as Peter. Without reservation, these great disciples and leaders drop their work-a-day priorities to follow Jesus. They recognize His Light and are ready to make living within it their top priority.
What is the impact of light in the darkness? While light certainly can dispel darkness…eliminate or diminish it, it is also true that when stuck in the darkness of false convictions, addictions, errors, anger, fear, or doubt (ours or others,) it is not easy, or sometimes even possible, to feel and understand the deliverance the light of repentance, forgiveness, obedience to the wise guidelines of Jesus’ teachings and love offers us.
Often when I come into my bedroom after dark, instead of switching on the overhead light I try to cautiously negotiate the table, throw rugs, chest at the end of the bed, and any souvenirs of my grandchildren’s activities which may include but not be limited to blocks, legos, and stuffed animals, to find the light at my bedside table. I am lazy and don’t want to have to go back to turn off the overhead light once settled in bed, and by the time I’m in my bedroom, I want to be settled in bed…reading, writing, and listening to scriptures or podcasts. That period, before I reach the bedside table and turn on the light, is always a little fraught. The possibility of hitting something, stumbling on a carpet, or stepping on our cat is ever-present. Once the light is on…it’s a different world. The lay of the land becomes clear. Where things are, what, if anything, needs to be put away becomes much more obvious. I don’t need to be wary and can proceed to do the things that will enrich and enfold me in meaningful peace as the day comes to an end. I have to turn on the light.
We each have the extraordinary opportunity to have the light of the world illuminate the scenes of life around us. With the love, wisdom, and inspiration of Jesus’ teachings and the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can avoid pitfalls and obstacles to our eternal progress and temporal well-being. With the light and wisdom of Jesus’ teachings, and prompted by the Holy Spirit he has sent to alert us, we can see anger, hatred, prejudice, fear, doubt, despair, greed, the lust for power, lasciviousness or self-indulgence in substances that are harmful or addictive, for what they are: obstacles and dangers that will ultimately prevent us from experiencing peace and the comfort that comes from proceeding on the path Jesus invites us to follow as we choose to live in His Light. This light is always there for us, shining in the darkest corners and moments of life. Just as Jesus knew and recognized each of his early disciples before they knew Him, He knows each of us and is extending an invitation to each of us to drop the other priorities that crowd in to confuse our understanding of the purpose of life and to instead follow him, hang out with Him, consult with Him and learn to see our lives in His Light. Following him means making love for those around us a number one priority because that is how we show our love for God. As John observed in I John 2: 8-11:
“ Again a new commandment I write unto you,…because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother(or sister) is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother(or sister) abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (or her.) “
This also means we are called to love ourselves and treat ourselves with the care and respect with which we then are called to treat others. (Luke 6;13; Matthew 7;12.) We each have periods of darkness in our days and lives. How empowering to realize we each have access to a cold fusion energy source that can overcome the confusion, danger, and despair of sorrow or sin.
So let us all turn on the light, the light of the glorious love of God which can illuminate our lives and the lives we touch.