In The Light
by Jesse L. Smith
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One of the most intriguing courses I took as an undergraduate studying Molecular Biology at the University of California in San Diego was titled ‘Marine Biochemistry’. What particularly fascinated me was a section of the course that dealt with life that is found at the site of geothermal vents miles below the surface of the ocean. Geothermal vents are essentially places where the ocean meets magma at tectonic plates along the ocean floor. Here in perhaps one of the harshest possible environments on the earth life still thrives – even in the total absence of sunlight. In other ecosystems of the earth sunlight is required to sustain life; the energy of sunlight is captured by plants and algae and transferred to the rest of the ecosystem. Here however in the darkest regions of the ocean bacteria are able to capture energy from the magma and thereby support an entire ecosystem!
The question then must be asked – can these ecosystems survive without the sun? The surprising answer is – no. Although organisms present in these ecosystems are able to capture energy from an alternate source they lack the ability to fix Carbon Dioxide into organic molecules. In other words- they depend on life that dwells in the light for the raw materials necessary to sustain themselves! Their source for organic molecules comes in the form of ‘detritus’ – or dead organic matter that sinks to the ocean floor. It seems interesting that God has made the world in such a way that all life present on it owes its existence in one way or another to the presence of the sun.
The Bible compares God Himself to Light – 1st John 1:5 says of Him, “…this is the message we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Anyone who has taken an elementary physics course can tell you that light is a type of energy that is related to matter – but we know that God is not material, He is spiritual. Jesus told the woman at the well in 1st John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” It is apparent then that when God calls Himself Light and speaks of darkness, He is speaking of a spiritual truth that is analogous to a natural truth. God uses the natural world to give us insight into spiritual reality!
In nature the types of creatures that thrive in darkness for the most part evoke a negative response for people – think about worms, cockroaches, bats and the like. Could it be that the sort of creatures that inhabit spiritual darkness parallel the type of creatures that inhabit natural darkness? Jesus in Mark 9 when speaking of Hell emphasized several times that it was a place “where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” At any rate scripture says that we as believers are not creatures of the dark, but rather of the light. 1st Thessalonians 5:5 says, “You are all children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
Just as life proceeds from natural light in the world – life in the spiritual world proceeds from God. John spoke of Jesus saying, “In him was life; and the life was that light of men.”-John 1:4 Jesus spoke of His own purpose on earth saying, “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10 When we put our faith in Jesus – the Bible says that we become a new kind of creature, and “…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” -2 Cor. 5:17 We become creatures that live by the Light!
In the natural world creatures that are sustained by the light are called producers, and are themselves a source of life for all other creatures. Jesus called us both the salt of the earth and the light of the world in Matthew 5, both elements of which are required for life to exist. Jesus may have well said we are the producers of the earth! Praise God for His love for us – at one point in our lives we all lived to receive, now we live to give. Our primary responsibility now as producers on the earth is simply to remain in the Light – 1st John 1:7 says, “…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
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