I find it amazing how much sunlight affects a person’s mood. Just the other day we had a break from the many days of cloudy gloom when the sun came out. There might as well have been trumpets blowing and confetti guns shooting high into the air, because that’s what it felt like inside of me. Everything was exploding with happy goodness! It never gets old. I’m always amazed at how much of a difference sunlight can make in my attitude.
Thinking on why sunlight has this happy effect on people (at least me) and gloomy darkness doesn’t, made me remember something from my childhood. It has to do with light and dark. When I was younger if I heard something said, I took it quite literally. My thoughts were often very black and white, right and wrong, this and that. (on a side note, this made me very gullible)
I carried this same literal understanding when I heard or read something in the Bible. I never took into consideration who the author was writing to or what time period it was being written in. Instead, I thought that every passage was literal and for the exact here and now. So, when I heard the Bible passage of John 3:19-20, I ended up having some interesting concerns. Here is what the passage says:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
Darkness and Evil…
Remember how I thought of a childhood memory? Well, here it is. When I was younger, I was really worried for one of my brothers. You see, he really liked watching his tv shows and movies in the dark. He preferred the lights out and darkness. I, on the other hand, did not. I wanted to have as much light on as possible all the time. I recognized this difference between us and thought about the verse. “But people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light.”
Was my brother evil? He loved the darkness. The Bible said that those who loved the darkness were evil, at least that’s how my childlike mind applied it. So, if my brother loved literal darkness, then he must be evil! This just didn’t sit well with me. When I thought about my brother, I couldn’t see him as being evil. This was my kind brother who watched out for me and loved Jesus too. I couldn’t reconcile what I thought the Bible was saying with what my experience was.
Perhaps this was one of my first times of really trying to figure out what the Bible meant in this instance. I admit that at my young elementary age, I did not try to delve any deeper to figure it out. I didn’t ask my parents for help in understanding this – probably because I didn’t want to get my brother in trouble in case he really was evil. I just held onto this question all my life, but usually pushed it aside when it came up and chose not to interact with it. For years, I wondered, but never searched out the answer.
Light in the Dark…
Now, as a grown person, I understand things so differently. God is not saying my brother is evil because he prefers to watch tv and movies in the dark. As an adult, I now know that MANY people prefer this way to watch screens because it enhances the picture. Indeed, it helps the LIGHT on the screen shine brighter! We can see the light better when it is dark.
This too isn’t an all together extra-Biblical observation – light shining in the darkness. There are a few places in the book of Isaiah where we see this.
Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.Isaiah 8:22-9:2
It goes on to say that the people will have increased joy and shattered yokes from their burdens. It finishes with the well-known passage, ‘For unto us a child is born’ of which Jesus’ government and peace will have no end! Later on in Isaiah it says:
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,Isaiah 58:9b-11a; 12b
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
So, how does watching movies in the dark correlate with getting out in the sunlight? Well, there are many times when things in the world feel gloomy, cloudy, and dark. It can seem like everywhere we look we see evil. But in the darkness, we have the opportunity to be the ‘son-light’ for others and show Jesus’ light more clearly. Just like the natural sun brightens the innermost being of people, so too can Jesus, the ‘son’ in us!
Arise and Shine…
We can bring the LIGHT! So, when we feel the gloom of the darkness in our world settling upon us, we can remember that we have the SON who shines on us, in us, and through us… living inside us! We can do as Isaiah says
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.Isaiah 60:1
Because we have Jesus living in us, we too can ARISE, SHINE and have THE GLORY OF THE LORD RISE UPON US. Now GO! Shine your light!