…candles don’t hold a candle…

There’s something about dawn. Obviously the sunrise is beautiful. Who can deny the amazing way the streaks that fire with laser-like focus over the horizon begin to paint ridges and trees and waterfalls and giraffes, reclaiming the colors that were dulled by the night? And even before the Sun has had a chance we feel warmer when the darkness breaks. The dawn is a lovely time. Is it any wonder that ancient civilizations and mystical ancients have been caught up worshiping our angry star? If there was any idolatry that could even begin to make sense isn’t it the Sun?

But that isn’t exactly what I’m talking about when I refer today to the dawn. Other than warming our blue planet, and presumably holding the balance of our solar system in check, the Sun’s main contribution to us is to provide light. I know that I’ve offered a poetic line about the light that emerges with the dawn, but for a moment, if it’s even possible, take away the awe-inspiring beauty and the warmth that the light of the Sun offers and look at it more mechanically, more coldly. It occurred to me that, even if I view it with obdurate prudence and a Puritan’s gift for patience over excitement, the light of our Sun is an impressive thing. Functionally it does everything we need it to, when we need it to, and every time we need it to. It has never failed to provide this earth with light for each rotation we make, save for about half a day two millenia ago in response to such a shameful display of human depravity that even this fail-safe light source couldn’t find the motivation to illuminate Perfection hanging naked on a cross.

To see the majestic light that Sun gives us we can’t just pay attention to its light, we must look at it compared with another light source. I can turn every light on in my house, overhead fixtures, lamps, candles, cell phone and computer screens, toys with blinks that chase each other through plastic painted haunts – every possible source of light can be on in my house the minute before sunrise and it would be bright. We would complain that it is too bright, which would be quickly followed by too hot, and then rounded out by too expensive. But if we kept them on for that full minute, with anticipation boring holes in our eyes, what we would find when the Sun’s mighty lasers shot through the windows on the front of the house, would be a stark disappointment with the innovations of man. Every bare bulb, burning with all of its passion and wattage, that the sunlight touched might as well have donated it’s filament to science the night before for all the good it would be. The Sun makes every other light, even those lights that seem to defy the power of night, irrelevant and puny.

I read something not too long ago that created this line of thought. In an article by theologian NT Wright about Christmas and the birth of Jesus, he dealt with the comparison between the Roman monarch Augustus and the manger bound King of the universe, Jesus Christ. He writes:

Augustus’ empire is like a well-lit room at night: the lamps are arranged beautifully, they shed pretty patterns, but they have not conquered the darkness outside. Jesus’ kingdom is like the morning star rising, signaling that it is time to blow out the candles, to throw open the curtains, and to welcome the new day that is dawning.

NT Wright

I can’t speak for all of you, but as for me there are far too many days that I am living in the light of candles and lamps. And while it’s possible to see and move around and stay alive and relatively comfortable with candles and lamps, there is nothing all that majestic or sovereign about a light that is surrounded by dark. The light from the Sun is never surrounded by dark, it terrifies the last vestiges of night with its first blast of phosphorescent radiance, and continues to reign unchallenged until it decides it’s time to leave.

Perhaps it was with this kind of spirit that Paul wrote these words,

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

This marvelous light that has dawned in our hearts will not share space with darkness. It has no sympathy for anything other than unobscured territory. I don’t say this to cause you to doubt whether or not this light has shone into your heart, but as a promise that it won’t leave any corner untouched.

Our world is full of claims to power and fame and prestige and wisdom and happiness, and they are not completely false claims. We cannot, as Christians, lie to ourselves and assume that everything the world claims isn’t true. Much of it is true. However, the glorious reality is this: even though the claims of this world may be authentic, they will always be lesser. There is no power that can stand in the presence of God. There is no fame, prestige, or renown that can call every tongue on the planet to confess it’s prominence. There is no wisdom that can eclipse the insight of the Creator because as Creator He created the rules, laws, and knowledge that we so painstakingly pursue. As for happiness Jesus doesn’t even enter that contest, He raises the bar from the pittance of happiness to the supremacy of joy.

Friends, let there not be one doubt that what Jesus has called us to live in is His light. A light that will not share one square inch of stage with darkness. This means, wonderfully, that we are not dependent on our own sources of light, that God’s acceptance of us is based on Him only seeing a partial picture of who we really are, and that our lives will never encounter a moment where darkness obscures our view of our Savior.

Listen to John’s words,

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

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