Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am the Light of the World. You are the Light of the World

Yesterday, I took a six hour bus trip home, and along the way, it grew dark; I spent my time in the dark reflecting on the greatness of light. It was so dark in the bus that I could not even see my hands. Looking out the window, I could see absolutely nothing except car lights. The lights of my mp3 player and cell phone blinded me. I was awed by light’s power to drive out darkness. But light is incredible in other ways as well. Light (electromagnetic radiation) is emitted in discreet packets called photons. Building on Max Planck’s quantum theory and Albert Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect, Louis de Broglie came to the conclusion that light sometimes acts like a wave while other times it acts as a particle. It can be observed either as a wave or as a particle but never both at the same time. The wave-particle duality of light was explained by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that states that an object’s position and velocity cannot be precisely known at the same time. The relationship between light and electrons is also interesting. An electron can never be seen in its natural state, because as soon as light is shone on an electron it is driven way, and the only way to see an object is to shine light on it. Electrons are too small though to reflect light so the exact position of an electron can never be known. Light is truly a mystery.

All of this reminds me of Christ. As we enter the season of Advent, the darkest season of the year, let’s remember Christ who gives light to an often dark and miserable world. He is a mystery, but we see His work all around us. Unlike light that can be studied by a scientist, Christ cannot be studied, only believed. It is faith that allows us to see this Light.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

But we must reflect this light.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14:16).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What I Have Come to Realize About Faith

There are times when reading the Bible is like staring into a mirror. It doesn't necessary tell you anything new but shows you the Truth about yourself, a truth that you have somehow always known although you have never really acknowledged it before. A few weeks ago, it seems, I fully acknowledged a truth about Christianity (which incidently has everything to do with the Truth about me) for the very first time. And here it is, beautifully voiced by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31:

 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside." Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord."

I finally understood why I had struggled with the cross for so long. From a secular perspective, the cross is a symbol of death, defeat, and humiliation. Without any knowledge of God, it is impossible to understand the cross, to understand that the cross is not a symbol of death but a symbol of life - a symbol not of defeat but of victory. Now as a Christian, there is something else that I have learned, namely that knowledge does not create faith. This is a strange realization for me since I love reading books on theology. And although these books can certainly be beneficial, they do not create faith. Reason alone can never lead you to faith because reason's limits is this world and faith has to do with the "other" world, what is beyond human knowledge. The most knowledgeable people are not necessarily the ones who have faith while on the contrary the least educated are not the ones most lacking in faith. Often, the opposite is true. Maybe this is the case becuase faith is required before anything we read on God makes any sense. Everything precedes from faith. Maybe having faith is not as difficult to acquire as we may think. Sometimes I find that reading theology, instead of helping my faith, actually makes Christianity merely into an interesting philosophy. We all want proof, but religion is not science. We cannot prove the existence of God. We know that Jesus is God because He said so. This is what Jesus meant in his parable of Lazarus and the rich man when Abraham said, "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16: 31). Miracles are only miracles when seen through the eyes of faith. For Christians, Jesus has risen from the dead. For everyone else, Jesus is still dead. So, I love theology. I love the challenge of reading books written by well-known theologians, but I am starting to realize that the best way to learn about God is to personally ask Him. There is no better way.