Light doesn’t follow the rules, at least not those you and I are constrained by. Its speed is an absolute, fixed throughout the universe, and light is so fast it’s unapproachable by anyone and anything. Light exists outside of time and reveals all, about everything. Until its source is eliminated, light shines with limitless reach; therefore, light is a powerful metaphor for the presence of God. God is light, and those without God live in darkness.
But we can go beyond simply mining this metaphor for homilies about God’s grace shed on mankind. You see, light mirrors many of God’s divine attributes – His transcendence, immutability, omniscience, solitariness, and even the hypostatic union all have parallels in the properties of light. Throughout the Bible, light is not just a metaphor for goodness, God’s word goes further telling us God Himself is light: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light (Matthew 17:2). In Revelation, we’re told there is no need of the sun in the new Jerusalem because the glory of God will illuminate it (see Revelation 21:23). God has imprinted all creation with parallels of His divine nature and they are displayed throughout the physical realm.
Light does not require anything in which to exist. It can travel through a vacuum, through the nothingness of space. Sound waves are fundamentally different because they require some kind of material to travel through like air or water. Science fiction movies love to pan across spaceships travelling through outer space as the theater’s sub-woofer rumbles with bass from the sound of the engine. All wrong. Outside of the spaceship you wouldn’t hear anything because sound waves cannot travel in the vacuum of space. But light can. Solitary light has no need of anything. Before creation, God existed in three persons entirely self-sufficient, in need of no one and no thing.
Light travels faster than anything in the universe and is always travelling at light speed. It is the gold standard for speed and no ship or object or person can ever achieve the speed of light. The laws of physics even dictate that time itself must slow down to obey the primacy of light speed. Einstein showed that time passes differently for people relative to their frame of reference. Imagine two cars driving toward each other at 60 mph. Now, picture a stationary car toward which another car drives at 120 mph. What’s the difference to the observers in either car for both scenarios? Classical physics teaches there is no difference (both drivers in each scenario would perceive the other vehicle approaching at 120 mph) but Einstein asked himself what would happen if each car were travelling near the speed of light. Suppose each car were moving at 80% light speed, would it seem like one car is travelling at 160% the speed of light relative to the other car? Nope, God does not allow it. The key discovery Einstein made was that all observers would agree on the speed of light but not the passage of time. If somehow a stationary observer could read a clock inside a car moving at 80% the speed of light, they would observe that clock to be slower than the clock in their stationary reference frame. The speed of light is absolute. God is absolute. He doesn’t change with the times nor does He change his moral standard based on the zeitgeist of the age.
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Light exists outside of time. As an object accelerates toward the speed of light, not only does its time slow down (as perceived by stationary observers), but the object’s mass increases until infinite energy is required to reach the speed of light. Though impossible, imagine riding on a beam of light. As speed increases, time slows down; and, at light speed, time would stop altogether. One day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8). Light exists totally outside of time! God is light and He is outside our dimension of time.
Sometimes light acts like a particle instead of a wave. Quantum physics discovered that energy is quantized rather than continuous. Every time an excited electron relaxes, it emits a quantum of energy called a photon, or a particle of light. The wave model of light, on the other hand, explains why polarized sunglasses reduce glare and why we see colors in oily puddles. Physicists concluded light was not capriciously alternating between two forms, but that light has a dual nature, wave and particle, and while sometimes it is easier to think of light as one or the other, it is always both. Jesus possesses a dual nature, God and man. Jesus is fully God while being fully man, simultaneously. The second person of the trinity took upon Himself a new nature when He came to earth, fulfilling all of the law before dying for our sins (Philippians 2:6-8). The Bible tells us God is light, so it is fitting that God mirrored the dual nature of Christ in light itself.
Nothing can hide from the light. Even the composition of distant stars is revealed by its light through a process called spectroscopy. Star light passes through gas around the star and when it passes through a prism on earth, it is split into a line spectrum. Each element is revealed by its characteristic color of light. These spectral lines are the fingerprint of the atom, allowing scientists to categorize the elemental make-up of each star they observe, no matter how far away. Nothing can escape the witness of the light. Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7); All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:13); He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)
Darkness is the absence of light and evil is the absence of righteousness. In our lives there will always be a little evil, as our hearts are continually casting shadows but those shadows vanish when exposed to the light. I urge you to ask God to shine His light in your life, that you would no longer live in darkness.