On earth, light is probably the closest phenomenon that can express God. He tells us so: “I am the light of the world.” He is light. He radiates light. And being close to Him even Satan was a radiant being [Ezekiel 28:12-14] Moses ascends the mountain to be in God’s presence, and when he returns his face is glowing. In proximity to God he absorbed the radiance and became radiant himself. He glowed. Conversely, when both of these left God’s presence, they ceased to be radiant.
It follows that to become radiant like God, we must draw close to Him. In that closeness, we glow. We glow from intense life, the abundant life. In proximity to God we are imbued, irradiated by the light of God. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”¹ ; “so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life, than they ever dreamed of” ² It’s not just more and better, it is of a different nature, it is of a dimension beyond the time-space continuum, it is from the heavenly dimensions, it is eternal life!
Again, we find metaphors in nature. In quantum physics we see that when an atom receives light, it’s electrons are excited to a more vibrant state, and they eventually emit light and return to a less excited state. We are meant to be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. We are meant to receive so as to give, whether in finances, spiritual well being, wisdom, etc. We are meant to receive blessings so as to be a blessing to others: “And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;” [Genesis 12:2] But the metaphor ends here, because we don’t just receive and give this heavenly energy, God’s light, we are changed profoundly, becoming a new creation, and as we just saw, we get free of time, breaking through into eternity even as He is eternal. Truly it is more than the human brain unaided can comprehend. But if it takes a thousand metaphors and parables, Jesus is willing to get it into our unbelieving heads.
Radiation works in the same way as light, but it illustrates other aspects of our Christian world view. In the presence of uranium, plutonium, or other radio-active elements, nearby matter receives radiation and itself becomes radioactive. So radioactivity illustrates the possibility of being changed, becoming radiant, even into eternity. In fact radioactivity continues almost eternally ³. And so does the permanent, eternal change we undergo when we believe in Christ, the Son of God and savior.
Unfortunately, as we all know, radioactivity is not like the radiance of God’s Spirit, in that it is not benign to humans. In fact it causes dreadful suffering and even death. So a second illustration of this metaphor, is that radioactivity is like evil: if we expose ourselves to evil we become corrupted and even die. This illustrates our need to discern to what and to whom we choose to draw near. All forms of sin, perversions, and God-substitutes (idols), produce destructive results even as does harmful radiation. That is why the Bible says, sin leads to death: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sin takes us away from God, from intimacy with Him, and if it ultimately takes us away from partaking of salvation – the ultimate and lasting intertwining with our Creator’s nature and redemptive purpose – then it’s results can be as destructive and final as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima. We have a simple choice: believe in this redemption which occurred at the cross, and move towards intimacy with God, or choose to move towards the stuff that draws us away sometimes by inches, sometimes by miles, until we discover we are almost too far… But no, never too far!
We have great power on earth.⁴ We alone may choose between life and death. Not just symbolically, but a true death. One direction leads to relationship, communion with the eternal creator, redeemer, and loving Father, and source of all life. The one who brought our world into existence out of chaos, out of a formless void.⁵ The other direction takes us towards chaos, degradation, suffering, limitation to the time-space continuum, and eventual permanent death. We may choose.
I have dear friends and loved ones who believe that we were accidentally formed from ooze, dust, or what have you, and that we’re destined to return to the earth as dust or humus. Are they wrong? It dawns on me that perhaps they are right. They have chosen to remain in the lower four dimensions, where death is final. Or perhaps, to be more accurate Scripturally, a transition to a condition of permanent judgement, where one is continually receiving exactly what one deserves. Let me explain. Let’s say that you’re in the desert. There are only two possible outcomes: life or death. As you travel, you’re using up your supply water. In the distance, someone points out an oasis. But you are convinced that it is a mirage, a figment of their imagination, too good to be true, and you walk right by it. What fate can await someone who refuses to drink from the life saving water? There is a spring at the foot of the cross from which we can drink deeply of eternally quenching salvation!
I believe that God is just and good. I believe that every living person is offered salvation in some way. Yes, even and especially the native in the bush who never heard of Jesus. It is our choice how we respond: do we drink the living water, or do we die?
*** *** *** *** *** ¹ John 10:10, New American Standard Bible ² John 10:10, The Message Bible ³ Uranium 235, for example, is said to have a half life of 704 billion years. That is to say that in that period of time half the material will still be there. In 1408 billion years, one quarter of the material will still be there, and so on. That is assuming there is still an earth… ⁴ Genesis 1:2 ⁵ Some spiritual persuasions would have us believe that we are powerful. Yes, we are powerful. We hold ultimate power in our hands. But from a Christian perspective, it’s not exactly the power they think. The great power we have is to choose. Choose “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” [Phil 4:8-9] We may choose God, and the one who restored our face-to-face relationship to Him, Jesus, or we may choose to go our own way, away from Him.