Have you ever wondered why the Bible repeatedly portrays God as light? A little story from the beginning of our marriage may help to answer the question:
After Diane and I tied the knot in May of 1992, we moved into our first apartment in Vienna, Virginia. It was a two bedroom place on the third floor (no elevator) of one building in a fairly large complex of buildings, and other than carrying groceries up three flights, it was a wonderful place to spend our first year together. However, not everything was perfect. The place had a “small” problem that was particularly noticeable whenever we came home and flipped the switch: yeah, the lights would reveal, you guessed it: la cucaracha. a.k.a. the cockroach.
I know what you’re thinking, and the Knowltons can be kind of messy sometimes, but in fairness to us, we inherited this problem from the previous tenants or the tenants previous to them, or whoever…either way, it was nasty. Now, of course, as anyone who has ever had a cockroach problem will tell you, you don’t get to see the problem for very long, because as soon as you turn on the lights, the little creatures scatter. Where they go, who knows, but it doesn’t pay to think a lot about it.
We reported the situation to management and as I remember, the exterminators were able to eradicate the problem, but only by coming around the whole complex every three months. And all in all, we managed.
Now, it’s interesting that when the Apostle John wants to summarize his message at the start of his first letter, he says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (ESV)
That, of course, is not the summary we might have expected. How about instead, “This is the message: Christ died for your sins and rose again”? Or how about, “This is the message: Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”?
Nope. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” So why does John say God is light? Perhaps the answer comes two verses later when he goes on to say:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (ESV)
So…why does John say that God is light? Answer: Because light casts out darkness, like the blood of Christ casts out sin. You see, every single time a light goes on, darkness scatters. Every time. You might say that light has a way of casting out darkness, just like light once made the cockroaches in Vienna scatter. Light casts out darkness like a bouncer at a nightclub casts out a drunk guy picking fights. Light makes darkness and sin disappear.
Therefore, if you think about it, when Jesus shows up to Paul on the road to Damascus, is it any wonder that He appears as a light “brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13). In fact, Jesus is so bright, that His brightness causes Paul’s blindness (Acts 22:11). And so, it makes perfect sense: For Paul, the chief of sinners, on the road to capture and kill Christians, had a lot of darkness. A lot. And when Jesus showed up, His blinding light made Paul’s darkness scatter. That’s what light does – it has a purifying effect. It chases sin away. This is why God is light. He casts out all our darkness. And you and I have much darkness too.
Now one last thing: have you ever wondered how it will be possible to live in heaven without a single sin? Well, I’m sure there is more to it than just this, but one thing we know: in heaven it will never be night. That’s what John wrote in Revelation:
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:5 (ESV)
And for all of eternity, His glorious light, more blinding than the sun, will keep sin far, far away.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18th: Acts 27