If you hate being in the dark, then being in London in 1939 would not have been fun for you. Before World War Two began, London was preparing the people to stand against Germany. As things seemed to go from bad to worse, the small but powerful country of England knew they were putting their population at risk as they prepared to fight the angry giant of Germany under Hitler’s control. The British Air Ministry had predicted that the United Kingdom would be bombed at night by German air forces, so they were preparing to hide in the dark—literally.
To protect the civilians of London, and all of England for that matter, the British government issued an edict to have all the lights turn out in London and eventually the whole land. They wanted all man-made light to be turned off. The government distributed Public Information Leaflets which called for a general blackout of all lights.
On Aug. 11, 1939, the blackout of London began. The bright Piccadilly Square lights were turned off. Street lights were no longer lit and the only lights you could see were those on the front of cars or the eerie search light that scanned the sky for enemy aircraft. Two days before the war started, it wasn’t just London that went dark, but the whole country on Sept. 1, 1939. It wasn’t until five years later, on September 1944 that the intensity of the blackout was reduced—that was five years of very dark nights. When they started to allow lights, the rule was that any light that was brighter than the moon could not be used after dark. This went on for another 6 months until April of 1945.
Living in the darkness meant adjustments had to be made. Curbs had to be painted to make it easier for the cars to see at night. Lanterns and lights had to be taken down, or dimmers had to be placed on them. Police officers had to risk their lives to stand in the dark and direct the automobiles through round-a-bouts safely. Did the Blackout work? Perhaps partially—the lack of lights made it harder for enemy aircraft to locate a target. In the end, only 41,000 civilians were killed in Britain as opposed the half a million killed in Germany’s lit up cities. Black out. Darkness. Not a pleasant way of life. For those who lives in Britain at war time, darkness was an unsettling time. Darkness represented a lack of peace and a hopelessness that seemed to never end.
Darkness didn’t represent peace then, and for biblically speaking, darkness has never represented peace. Darkness is the absence of light—or the reflection of light.
Darkness could be thought of in three ways:
First, there is physical darkness, the absence of light to allow us to see. Our eyes need light to see—but where there is no light, we cannot see the beauty in front of us or the dangers upon us. We must have light to see—God created us that way and keeps light on earth and part of His created order through the sun and moon. Thomas Edison didn’t create light—just the light bulb—God created light. Without it we have physical darkness.
It makes me think of God causing the darkness in Egypt (Ex. 10:21) as one of the plagues we read about in Exodus chapter 10. The physical darkness is described as darkness “which may be felt.” It covered “all the land of Egypt,” so that “they saw not one another.” Have you ever been out a night when the darkness seemed so thick you could feel it? Imagine you are outside camping, the fire is out and the moon is nowhere to be found; it is a creepy feeling.
Then there is mental darkness. This is when you don’t have knowledge or understanding and darkness is a symbol of ignorance or confusion. This can happen if you just don’t know something or are mentally bind to something. This is a blast to watch in my kids—they are “Mentally dark” to some things but then they figure it out and wow, the “light come on” and they figure something out didn’t know or understand before.
Mental darkness can relate to not knowing something about the world, or not knowing something about God in the heavens. Paul talked about this in 2 Corinthians 4:6 when he wrote, “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.” There is a moment when God literally opens our minds with His light to have knowledge of Him. Elsewhere in Scripture, it talked about the darkness of the minds of those who don’t know God. He hasn’t given them a knowledge of His special grace (not yet).
Which leads to the third kind of darkness we should acknowledge—Spiritual darkness. In the New Testament, the use of “Light” and “darkness” is almost always referring to a spiritual status. Spiritual darkness is the absence of God in our life. A Great example of that is 1 Peter 2:9, when talking about those who have faith in Jesus Christ and says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
So be it because of physical darkness, mental darkness or spiritual darkness, there is something cold, unsettling and disturbing about being in darkness.
But there was a moment in time when God said—the blackout is over. Let there be light. The very one who created all physical light was not going to be the spiritual light for all, calling those with mental and spiritual darkness to now see what they (we) would otherwise never see without the light of God.
God had planned to send Jesus to be the light of the world even before the world began. As long as there has been sin in the world, men and women at odds with God, there has been a plan to send Jesus to reconcile us with God. Moses—one of the earliest Father’s of our faith wrote about Christ in Numbers 24:17. Get this—some 1,400 years before Jesus ever was born to Mary, Moses wrote: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”
A star. A light, he said, would come out of Israel and bring God near to us. And we know that He was born unto us, to be “God with us; Emmanuel.” You see, once again God said, “let there be light…” and not just physical light, but the light of all life.
What exactly does it mean that Jesus is the light?
Here is what I wrote down: Jesus is the light meaning that He makes God’s unapproachable glory accessible in my life. Jesus took was considered “unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16) and what Job said, “We cannot find” and made God ‘Findable” and “approachable.” Job said we cannot find God because “he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.” And while that is true that he is powerful and pure and we are weak and sinful, Christ made it possible for God’s power and purity to be realized in our life. Therefore, bringing the beauty of God’s “Light” or “Glory” to our messy, dark minds and hearts.
More than knowledge of God, Jesus gave us access to God—to light and life.
Think of it like this light bulb—God didn’t just come and say, “Here have knowledge that I exist” as if the light bulb is knowledge of God. Great, knowledge of God may be closer to having light than we were before, but knowledge in and of itself will not help us have light or life. So what Jesus does is He comes and opens our dark minds to know God AND experience God. Jesus brings God’s glory to our lives by shedding light (wisdom, knowledge and spiritual insight) on all that God is and does for us, by Grace. So again, when we say that Jesus is light, we are saying that He makes God’s unapproachable glory accessible in my life.
Some 800 years before Jesus was born on earth, we have a prediction, prophecy or should I say, promise, about the details of His coming. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking of the darkness of the land of Israel and the Israelites finally getting the light to show them the way to God. But just as He called them into the light, so Jesus does the same for us.
Forty chapters later, in Isaiah 49:6, the prophet said, Christ was going to be a light for all the world. A clear statement of salvation’s worldwide scope, a theme that Acts develops by quoting this exact verse in Acts 1:8 and 13:47.
God has been in the business of bringing people out of spiritual darkness as long as people have been in spiritual darkness (Is. 42:6-7). And He did it through Jesus Christ and He still does it daily Jesus Christ and the HS through whatever means possible.
I have to share one of my favorite stories of God giving spiritual light and life to someone; being football season—this is only appropriate.
Derwin Gray was a strong safety for the Indianapolis Colts for six seasons. He was a “po” kid from San Antonio, Texas. He said he was “po” not poor—because they couldn’t even afford the extra o and r. He was raise by his grandmother because his parents had him when they were only teenagers. His grandma was a Jehovah’s Witness, so he was raised in the JW faith—though he says his true religion was football.
Derwin loved football and saw it as his way out of the hell he believed he was living in. He saw heaven as the dream of playing American Football for the NFL. In high school, Derwin found that football gave him his identity—it was what he was known for—and it gave him significance. His senior year of High School he was giving a full ride to play for Brigham Young University. He said, “It was crazy… you had a black kid who was poor with a Jehovah’s Witness background, who’s god was football, attending a Mormon university.” He ended up meeting his wife at BYU and was drafted by the Colts.
It was in the NFL locker room when he met “The Half Naked Preacher.” He explains that it was impossible to miss this guy, even if you wanted to. There was a linebacker for the Colts who would take a shower, dry off, wrap a towel around his waist and pick up a Bible and ask those who were in the locker room, “Do you know Jesus?”
Derwin said, “I would think—did you know you are half naked?”
Derwin asked other veteran plays about this guy and they said, “Don’t pay any attention to him. That’s the naked preacher.”
Jesus was not going to be ignored; nor was the half-naked preacher going to let him be ignored. One day the naked preacher—also known as Steve Grant—walked right up to Derwin Gray and said, “Rookie, do you know Jesus?” Gray justified himself as a good man, the only one in his family to not go to prison, to finish high school and college. He said he didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol, all to justify that he was a “Good”.
Gray said, “The Naked Preacher opened his Bible and shared two verses with me: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” (Mark 10:18); and, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Steve explained that according to the Bible, only God is good; he is the standard of goodness and righteousness. Everyone else has sinned and falls short. This disturbed me.
Gray said, “Naked man, you are telling me that my moral comparison is to God and not to other people?” He said, “Yes.”
“God is perfect! What can I do to be perfect?” He answered, “Nothing.”
Gray said, “I’m in big trouble.”
That little conversation bugged Gray for nearly five more years. He watched Steve Grant (when clothed and outside the locker room) live out his faith, be faithful to his wife and continually testify to the Indianapolis community that Jesus is life.
One training camp day, five seasons in, Gray had the light of Christ come into his life. After several injuries and the loss of his ability to play ball, he realized that his football god was not going to serve him well. He also remembered his conversation with the Naked Preacher and that he was not perfect, and in big trouble without Jesus in his life. He went back to his room one training camp day and called his wife. He said, “Baby, I want to be more committed to you and I want to be committed to Jesus.”
Gray put his faith in Jesus Christ and the light of life overtook him. He finished his sixth season with the Colts and retired. He started traveling and preaching and then decided to travel and preach. Ten years later he planted a church in South Carolina and it became one of the top 100 fasted growing churches in America for three years straight.
Jesus will do whatever it takes to shine His light into someone’s life. He can use a half-naked Preacher to say, “Let there be light” and break through any kind of darkness.
Jesus himself said “I am the light of the world” in John 8:12 and “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
In the coming weeks, we are going to spend our time in the Gospel of John—specifically in the first few verses. The first verses of the fourth Gospel declare that Jesus is the light and without Him, there is no life—only darkness of the heart and the soul.
The light of life has come into the world, that is why we celebrate the Christmas story. God said, “Let there be light” but let me ask you, “are you missing the light?”
When you put up Christmas lights, you search so hard to find the bulbs that are dark and not lit. Spiritually speaking, do you work just as hard to find the joy that comes from being in a relationship with the light of life?
[Share light with loved ones] You say you believe that Jesus is the light, but are you showing that light to your family? Are you living in the light personally as a father or mother in your home, yet and letting them lurk in the darkness?
[Shared light with lost ones] Or maybe you’re generous with your money and your time. You gave on giving Tuesday and supporting those in need. But are you kind with your attitude and generous with money, yet your heart is not broken over those around you that are in darkness? [If you have time—talk about the HR mom and her darkness]
[Shared light with your own soul] Perhaps you are so caught up in the gossip of those that are in the light that you are missing the gospel of being in the light? Or maybe the doctrines about the light have become more important to you than the God of the light.
[Sharing in the joy of being in the light] Finally, let me ask you, are you reveling in the joy of being in the light? Or are you so stressed and so burdened and so worn out by your kids or this season or your own treadmill of busyness that you are not stopping to revel in the joy of being in the light.
My daughter, Carolina, who is two, believes that all the Christmas lights around town are put up for her. Whenever we pass Christmas light she says, “Look, Daddy! Look! Those are my lights.” It is the cutest thing. So, I go with it and say, yeah best friend, those are your light, hung just for you. She has so much joy in the lights.
Do you? Are you allowing the light of Jesus Christ to be your joy? I hope that with every glowing Christmas bulb you see this week you will revel in the fact that darkness was broken and God said, Let There be Light. Jesus is that light, makes God’s unapproachable glory accessible in my life.