by J. D. Watson
Ephesians 5:8 declares, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." The Greek for "light" (phos, English "phosphorus," etc.) refers to light itself, not merely a lamp, candle, or any other source of light. When we couple this with the words "but now ye are," we see that though we were once darkness, we now are light—as darkness was once in us, light is now in us. Jesus Christ is, indeed, the only One who brings light. Of Himself He declared, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John. 8:12).
Light is truly a fascinating phenomenon that has baffled men for centuries. The 17th Century Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens developed the theory that light travels in waves, but his contemporary, the famous English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, described light as being comprised of particles. While both views are actually defensible, and while it's now believed that both theories are essentially complementary, it's obvious that we still don't know what light is.
But we do know what light does, and when we consider some of the aspects of its nature, we recognize some profound spiritual applications.
First, light is emitted from a source. Whether it comes from the sun or from a small flashlight, light has a source. What's more, all physical light, according to Scripture, originated at creation, when God said, "Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3).
Spiritually, the source of light is God, and Him alone. The Psalmist declares, "God is the Lord, which hath showed us light" (Ps. 118:27). Isaiah thundered to rebellious Israel, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." Later he added, "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory" (Isa. 60:19).
Paul declared to the Corinthians, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:4). And as the Apostle John makes clear, "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" (1 John 1:5).
Second, light spreads out the farther it travels. We've all seen this with a flashlight: no matter how focused the beam, the light spreads out. As John declared of the Lord Jesus, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Not every person is redeemed, but God's light, the Lord Jesus Christ, is available to all.
Third, when light strikes an object having a hard surface, it is either absorbed or scattered in all directions. An interesting phenomenon of light is that frequencies are absorbed differently, which gives objects their color. In contrast, white surfaces scatter light of all wavelengths equally, while a black surface absorbs all light. Spiritually, each of us is a unique "surface" and will reflect God's light uniquely. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
Fourth, light produces change. Another phenomenon is how light affects certain chemicals. Sunlight, for example, triggers photosynthesis in plants. Also, in photography when light strikes chemicals that contain silver, they turn dark in the presence of other chemicals. Likewise, the light of Christ and His word brings about transforming change. John writes, for example, of a "new commandment" to love sacrificially as our Lord did and said this new commandment comes "because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth" (1 John 2:8). This is why Paul writes, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). The light of Christ always produces change. Light drives away the darkness and all the things that hide in that darkness.