Do you seek to grow in your knowledge and understanding of God and his word? In Jesus’ last public discourse before his death and resurrection (according to John’s gospel), he confronted his audience with a stark choice: accept him and his message as the true light which comes from God or receive the consequences of disbelief and rejection, namely judgment and eternal darkness. Why does Jesus speak of himself as the light of the world? In the scriptures light is associated with God’s truth and life. Psalm 27 exclaims, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Just as natural light exposes the darkness and reveals what is hidden, so God’s word enables those with eyes of faith to perceive the hidden truths of God’s kingdom. Natural light also brings warmth and enables seed to sprout and living things to grow. Jesus’ words produce life — the very life of God — within those who receive it with faith. To reject Jesus’ words is to reject the Word of God and to bring condemnation upon oneself. Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn, but rather to bring life and freedom to those who would accept him.
Why do we find Jesus’ warning of judgment hard to swallow? Augustine, the fifth century bishop of Hippo, summed up our predicament in his great prayer: God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, and that our resentment against you was groundless. Do you want to know more of God and his forgiving love? Look to Jesus, the Light of God, and in his truth you will find joy, freedom, and wholeness of mind and soul.
Reflection written by Don Schwager of www.rc.net