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THE PROMISE OF GUIDING LIGHT.
John 8:12-20

28th July 2002

During the week a friend called in to see me and have a cup of coffee. We have known each other since he was a young Anglican minister. Today Archbishop David Gitari is head of the Anglican Church in Kenya. I had been most anxious for his safety. He and the Anglican Church have been on a collision course with President arap Moi who is defying the Parliament and the Constitution by staying in power. Kenya's economy is in tatters. The students from Nairobi University constantly clash with the police. Opposition leaders in the parliament have been killed in mysterious circumstances. 

The conflict with President Moi goes back decades. But before the 1997 Presidential election which saw massive corruption, injustice and oppression of the opposition, the Anglican Church was telling the President he must not ignore the Constitution and the Court rulings. Protestors filled the streets in running battles with the security forces of the President. Armed police in riot gear burst into All Saints Cathedral during a worship service when David was preaching. They beat up the pro-democracy worshippers. A dozen Members of Parliament were beaten and many clergy injured. David escaped to his house where his family were terrified for his life. Forty-seven armed men, came as a hit squad to kill him. Archbishop David Gitari heard them smash into his house. He wondered if he should face them and be killed or try to esape. He said, "I remembered the passage of scripture where Joseph was warned to escape murderous King Herod by taking Mary and Jesus to Egypt. I decided God wanted me alive to continue the fight."

As the armed hit-squad ransacked his house and were forcing their way up the stairs, he went outside the bed-room onto a balcony and swung himself onto the roof. He soldiers rushed into the bed-room and found it empty. Meanwhile, crowds of people hearing the death squad approach the Archbishop's residence mobbed around outside. Not finding the Archbishop and fearing such a large crowd, the death squad themselves escaped from the crowd who could see their Archbishop on the roof!

The forces of darkness and light are in conflict in many parts of the world, and when my friend Archbishop David Gitari left me Friday to fly back to Kenya, none of us knows how he will be received by President Moi. Many people live in darkness not of their own making. What they need is light. Sometimes, they live in the darkness of fear. There are little children who are afraid of the dark but some adults are much worse off: they are afraid of the light. It may be the darkness of sin that closes in, or the darkness of suffering. For those who suffer, the outlook may appear to be pitch-black. It is dark for those who walk in the valley of the shadow of death, and those in the gloom of grief. Although some may appear to hate the light and long for the dark, there are others who live in the darkness and long for the light. Some years ago friends of ours went to live in one of the northern-most cities of the world, above the Artic Circle. Annie and Thor Hansen and their three children, Jan, Thor and Anna-Marie, now live in Tromso. Every year, on the 25th November, the sun sinks below the horizon and they do not see it again until 21st January. They live completely without the sun in the darkness of the northern night. 

Annie wrote to us, "In the Polar blackness mental disturbances occur, and many unstable people slip over the edge into the profoundest mental disturbance. Even those who are mentally healthy for the days of the sun, because of the long dark they become unaccountably tense, restless, fearful and preoccupied with thoughts of death. The Polar night also has the tendency to bring out in people the least desirable elements of human behaviour such as jealousy, suspicion and irritability. Those who live in the dark north count the days until the light comes back and on that day we run out into the streets and greet one another with the shout, 'It's back! It's back! The light is back!'"

New York once suffered a massive, unexpected and complete blackout when the electrical systems failed. There was a sudden increase of crime, violence, looting, raping and murder. Deeds of evil love the dark! Our Lord said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:19-21 One day in the Temple, Jesus made a proclamation that must have seemed incredible to those who heard Him. In accordance with tradition He was attending the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a seven-day national holiday. The people lived out-of-doors in booths made of palm leaves to remind them of the years their ancestors lived in tents in the wilderness and when they were guided at night by the light of a pillar of fire. 

There were four huge candelabra in the Temple courtyard each containing four bowls of lighting oil. When all sixteen lamps were lit, all of Jerusalem was illuminated. Jesus then announced, "I am the light of the world" John 8:12 What does it mean when you say that Jesus is the Light of your life? I asked myself: "What is the nature of light?" Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." He also said to those who heard Him preach the Sermon on the Mount, "You are the light of the world." Matthew 5:14 We who believe in Him are expected to reflect His light. I read physics books on the nature of light. It was an intriguing experience. I read in my physics textbooks truth that described spiritually what Jesus is to us. 

1. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE
The words "light" and "life" are often together. John 1:5 "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." Jesus, the Light of the World, is also shown by Paul to be the source of all life. "For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him." Colossians 1:16 He is the source of all spiritual life. He said, "No one comes to the Father except through me. ..Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." John 14:6,9 Jesus is the source of all spiritual life as light is the source of all physical life. 

2. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF GROWTH
All food is brought into being through light. The oxygen we breathe is produced through the operation of light on plants and the miracle of photosynthesis. 

We depend upon light for food and air. Paul may have been more scientific than he knew when he said, "God is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:27,28 Many people living in darkness grope for God. Many people try to find what is missing from life. Some shop the religious TV programmes groping for light. Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." He is the source of life, the light of the world, the source of growth. Everything that grows owes its origin to light. Plants need light. Animals need light. Sea life and human life need light. Even the stored energy resources, in coal, petroleum and natural gas, have stored away light. One book on physics said, "Light is the fundamental constant of the universe." That is exactly what I think of Jesus. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8 For spiritual growth we need light and Jesus is the source of it.

3. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF ILLUMINATION
A blind man once begged Jesus to touch him so that he could see. Jesus placed saliva on the man's eyes and placed His hands on him. Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." Mark 8:22-26 Many have only dim spiritual sight. They need the second touch of the Master's hand to enable them to see clearly. He is the only One, who, through His touch, can make us see clearly now. If it were not for light, none of us could see anything. Similarly, without Jesus Christ, we cannot see the realities of this life or the life to come.

Light guides, reveals, dispels. Jesus is our guide. Hymns say: "Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah", and "Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on." Jesus is the Light that reveals the true nature of God and of Life as it was meant to be. He is the Light that dispels our fears, our troubles and anxieties. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." Psalm 23:4

4. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF ENERGY
Light is the ultimate source of energy. All energy comes from light, whether stored in fossil fuels, petroleum or natural gas. Light itself is energy, whether in motion, in waves, or in particles. Paul says, "Jesus energizes me." Philippians 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Jesus is the source of energy. Last Monday I purchased a new suit at David Jones store. A salesman fitting the suit coat ran his hands smoothly and expertly round my shoulders and under my arms checking for perfect fit. I said to Mr Ray Smith of DJ's "You do your job so well. I can tell there are many years of experience in fitting this suit." Mr Smith replied, "Many years. In fact I am the oldest employee that David Jones have." I replied, "Excuse my impertinence, but how many years have you been fitting suits?" This man so full of energy and vitality replied, "I have been fitting suits for 66 years, excluding a few years off for war service. I just love meeting people and making sure they are well suited. I am 84 years old and still working a full week and David Jones seem to still want me!" I think of those people twenty five years younger than Mr Ray Smith who have run out of puff and keep hanging on for retirement just as soon as possible. Jesus Christ gives us energy! Light is the source of all energy!

5. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF SIGHT
If it were not for light, there would be no purpose for our eyes, but even the miracle of sight does not permit us to see all the colours that are. Physics tell us that there is a whole range of colours that our eyes cannot see. The colours of the rainbow are open to us all the way from red to violet. But the scientists tell us that what we see is only a comparatively small fraction of the colours that really exist. Beyond the red rays at one end of the spectrum are infra-red colours, and beyond the violet at the other end are the ultra-violet and out beyond these there are ranges of colour which we never see at all, because our eyes are not made to reach them. What we see is marvellous, but it is only a small part of what there is. This is also true of the spiritual world. What we see is only an infinitesimal part of what is there. Jesus, who gives us sight for the natural world, also gives us glimpses of the world beyond, the world that is to come. He is the One who gives us illumination, who enables us to see. At the time of conversion we are sometimes given a flash of the eternal Light. It came to the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road: "I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me." Acts 26:13 

God dwells in eternal light. And we, through faith will share in that light, because Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus is the source of life, the source of your energy, the source of your growth and the beginning of your spiritual existence. Accept Jesus Christ as the light of the world and you will have all the benefits that light brings! That is His promise. No longer grope in the darkness. Find in Jesus Christ the light of life!

Wesley Mission, Sydney.