The Light Of The World
John 8:12 MKJV Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus has truly been the “light of the world” and everyone from Ghandi to Lincoln to Mother Teresa has walked by His light. No teacher other than Jesus is so highly regarded as worthy, and even Mohammed said that Jesus was the only perfect person who ever lived.
The teachings of Jesus are often lauded as a “high moral ethic” however they also constitute the pathway to eternal life! The words of Jesus are ‘spirit and are life”: John 6:63 MKJV It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life.
Those that follow Jesus are not morally and spiritually ignorant, they do not walk “in darkness” and confusion about life, and they do not stumble in their walk with God but abide in a teaching that is certain and is true.
The teachings of Jesus purge us inwardly of hatred, unforgiveness, hypocrisy, worldliness and carnality. His teachings uproot sin from within us and thus we are made into a people of a pure heart and a loving disposition – by the Holy Spirit.
Obedience is the key to knowing the Light for it is “He who follows Me” that attains the light – not just those who “have opinions about Me”. John 7:17 MKJV If anyone desires to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it is of God, or I speak from Myself.
The reverse is also true, not only does obedience lead to truth - but sin leads to error. Heresy often begins as an attempt to justify a most-cherished sin – such as greed or homosexuality or fornication. Thus certain verses have to be “re-interpreted” and the light is lost as Jesus is disobeyed.
But what is the practical use of being enlightened? Surely money and sex are far more useful and enjoyable than mere enlightenment? What use is knowing the Truth and living in the light if it is a poor and joyless existence? These are the sort of questions people ask when they look at the sacrificial lives of certain Christians. People associate enlightenment with Yoda in Star Wars and Ghandi and Buddha and rightly conclude it is weird and ascetic and “not for them”.
However Christian enlightenment is not about astral travel or states of being. It is the simple certainty that God loves you. This holy certainty irradiates all of life, removes all confusion and anxiety and makes sense of both world history and everyday life – including our own identity. God’s love directs our actions and ensures their rightness and appropriateness and gives us a solid grounded-ness as an individual human being.
The enlightenment Jesus brings enables you to truly know who you are, and that who you are is already accepted in God, without any need for striving or change (though, paradoxically change will come as we realize that we do not have to change in order to be loved.)
The acceptance by God is prior to the changes God makes. This is much like marriage, where the love in the relationship enables us to go about the necessary changes. We marry first, and change later. We are loved by God first and get sanctified later on.
Without the light that Jesus brings our lives will slowly but surely become discordant and maladaptive, we will not understand our actions or ourselves and we will search for love and acceptance in ways that are ultimately self-destructive. Without God’s enlightenment we can end up like the Hollywood actors, or Princess Diana, outwardly blessed but inwardly a complete mess. Money, sex and power cannot bring about inner congruence or self-understanding. Only the love of God, found in the face of Jesus Christ, can do that.
Psychoanalysis can bring flashes and insights but it cannot bring salvation, analysis is like the light of a firefly – compared to the light of the Sun. For salvation is in realizing you are in a safe Universe, were you are loved by the Creator Himself and that you are an eternal being who will never cease to exist or stop enjoying His life and His love.
Jesus is the true light of life and no other source of “light” can do – not Einstein nor Buddha nor Oprah Winfrey nor Dr. Phil. This is not to say that what these people say is not useful or good, it is simply not adequate when faced with the twin problems of sin and death. We need the cross to put our mess to death, and to completely forgive it and forget it - not just to rearrange it or understand its childhood origins. As Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 MKJV (18) For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the perceiving ones." (20) Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom did not know God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. (22) For the Jews ask for a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; (23) but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. (24) But to them, the called-out ones, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (25) Because the foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and the weak thing of God is stronger than men.
All the equations in all the physics books in the world, and all the teachings of the great philosophers cannot make sense of your existence the way the love of God in Christ can.