“Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.'”1
Recently, some friends of mine presented to me the teaching of Richard Rohr on the “true” and “false” selves, which I believe are the same things as what others have called the flesh and the spirit, the old man and the new man, or Adam and Christ. What Mr. Rohr teaches is essentially that the false self is the identity we have given to ourselves – an identity which consists of who we see ourselves as and who we believe we should be. The false self is often based on our life experiences and our daily roles and duties. It is tainted by selfishness and warped by fear. The true self, he says, is who we are beyond and underneath all expectations, experiences, fears, and pain. The true self, he says, is the only one who is born of God, and it must be uncovered and allowed to dominate our awareness.
Another thing I’ve thought about is Jesus’ title as “the light of the world.” What does this mean? Think about this: light has two important functions, which operate together: 1). To reveal or manifest what is real and true, and 2). To dispel darkness and false ideas of what is real and true. When you turn on the light in a dark room, two things happen: you learn what is in the room, and you learn what isn’t in the room. So if Christ gives light, what reality or truth does his light enable us to see and apprehend? Could it be that this light which Christ shines illuminates and thus reveals a distinction (which is what “judgment” actually means) between what is of God (spirit and truth), and what is of man (flesh and falsehood)? Perhaps a primary thing Christ came to enlighten men about is that the spirit of God is within them (the true self), and that we can walk as sons of God simply by attending to and living from that life which is within us, while denying our self-preserving old nature. Spiritually, in the absence of light (darkness), there can be no reality, only the imaginations of men, which can certainly produce wonderful emotions and great religions, but never life.
The arrival of Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy that the time of “darkness” was ending:
- (Matthew 4:13-16 KJV): “…He came and dwelt in Capernaum…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying: ‘…the people which sat in darkness (all men, ultimately) saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up'”.
- (Luke 1:67, 76-79 KJV): “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying…And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death…” Notice that according to God, law-keeping Israel, who Jesus was sent to, were sitting in “darkness” and “the shadow of death!”
- (Luke 2:25-32 WEB (R)): “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. He came in the Spirit into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, that they might do concerning him according to the custom of the law, then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now you are releasing your servant, Master, according to your word, in peace; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Paul taught that believers were once in darkness, but in Christ are now in the light:
- (Acts 26:22-23): “…I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen, how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.”
- (Ephesians 5:8): “For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…”
- (1 Thessalonians 5:5): “You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness…”
- (2 Corinthians 4:6): “…seeing it is God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
- (1 Peter 2:9): “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…”
This post is just scratching the surface…I’m already working on a part 2 that goes deeper. For now, I just hope you are seeing that all believers are to live “in the light” and be a source of light for others. This doesn’t mean living a moral life (as I’ve said many times before, atheists and “religious” folks can both be very moral), nor does it mean merely “witnessing” to others about Jesus, which can be done in your own power and from a wrong motive. The light that we are to walk in and shine is the LIFE of God – His spirit within us, our “true self.” The defining characteristic of this life is self-sacrificing love which is naturally produced (though still painful at times), and a desire for communion with God in Spirit and Truth. Again, Jesus said those who follow him will have “the light OF life.” It’s a life and light that is within us, right now. You don’t need to beg, do something, or go somewhere to get it. Just realize it’s there and seek to uncover it. This isn’t automatic or always easy, but it is very possible, absolutely revolutionary, and spiritually necessary. Stay tuned my friends. God bless you.