Posts Tagged ‘Plato’

What is light? In our culture, the throbbing glow of plasma screens, neon signs, and halogen-illuminated billboards constantly barrages our senses.   During the holidays this is taken to the nth degree as we’re  inundated by the dazzling array of Christmas lights, holiday candles, shining stars, and Rudolph’s glowing red nose. Do you see what I see?

But, what is light? Is it something that glows in the dark and fills our heart with a warm tingling feeling? Is it something that wells up within us and makes us know that all is well? Or is it something that shines on our world and lights up what would otherwise be darkness? What I’d like to assert in this blog post is that not all kinds of light are the same. Roughly, there are two kinds of light: True light, and false light.  And one is the counterfeit and forgery of the other. And yet they’re both difficult to distinguish because they both appear to humans in the form of LIGHT.

As created beings, we are inherently drawn to light.  We are enamored by it and become transfixed by it.  What is it about the flames of a camp-fire? Or the waves from a TV-screen? (Even if we really don’t want to watch it, our eyes are irresistibly drawn to its constant beam.) A crude example from the animal world would be the moth — mindlessly crashing itself into the porch light.

However, my favorite example is the Angler Fish. The setting is total darkness. And out of the pitchest blackness of the ocean’s depths shines this little light glowing in the dark. And all the little fishes find comfort in this little light. They’re drawn to it. Indeed, they’re enamored and entranced by it.  And yet, little to they realize that their little light will spell their doom. It has drawn them by its glow and yet failed to reveal to them the scary predator lurking in the periphery of the picture. Rather than leading them to freedom, it has trapped them for devouring.

And how much is our life like this?  We’re enamored and entranced by the little lights in our lives.  By the glowing beams of warm feeling which offer themselves to us to make us feel good (for awhile). They promise us happiness and we believe them. And yet this is totally different from the concept of light that we get from Scripture.

In Scripture we get an idea of light which (rather than merely entrancing us by its glow) actually lights up our whole world so that we no longer are in darkness but can walk in broad daylight.  The Gospel of John gets at this:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Peter experienced this when he was set free from prison:

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. (Acts 12:7)

The Biblical concept of light is not something that glows in the inner recesses of our hearts, but which illuminates all of creation.  Even when God set the stars in the heavens (and Paul calls Christians to shine like stars in Phil. 2) they are not meant merely to shine so that we can feel good looking at them (think Hollywood) but so that they can shed light upon this earth.

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth. (Gen. 1:17)

Indeed, the fact that men have any life in them at all, any light at all — so that they can live and move and have their being — is because Christ is their light. This is true even for unbelievers.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Of course, the world has never realized this.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:9-11)

Not only has the world not believed, but (because of the rulers of the air) they have erected their own ‘lights’ instead; lights which neither illuminate the world or lead people in the way of life (who is Christ). Rather, these lights are more like glow-sticks; fun to look at, but leaving everyone still in pitch darkness.

This false light appears like true light, and thus (even for the Christian) is hard to distinguish.  They both seem similar in substance.  And what Christian would ever suspect light?  Isn’t light always pure and essentially good? Certainly it’s not something to ever question or criticize? And yet Scripture tells us,

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)

Because of this many Christians are lead away to believe their ‘inner light’ is the truth of God, when really it is a counterfeit deception. This kind of thinking demonstrates how much we in the West are influenced more by Plato than by Judeo-Christianity.

As C.S. Lewis aptly put it,

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

It is essential that we, as Christians, learn to discern what is true light and what is false light.  We must be taught from Scripture and by the Holy Spirit to distinguish the “light of the world” from its forgeries.  If the light of the world is not Christ, it is no light at all.

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