“Seeing the Light”

Some readers may not be aware of the origin of this title. It refers to an experience by a man who became an apostle and advocate for Christianity in its early days. Saul of Tarsus was a rabid persecutor of Christians: he was one of the ones who approved of the murder of Stephen (mentioned in a post two weeks ago).

Considered the leader of the faith’s early opposition movement, he encountered the risen Christ in a bright light as he was traveling to Damascus. Though planning to arrest more believers when he arrived, three days after ”seeing the light” he did exactly the opposite: he agreed with the Christians and let everyone know of his dramatic reversal. You can read the story in Acts 9:1-22.

Since then, “seeing the light” has become a proverb for any form of enlightenment or change of thought, but as with numerous biblical allusions, the original story carries a significant amount of context that we lose if we don’t know it. For example, the Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the “light of the world” (John 8:12), adding a layer of meaning that transcends the simple notion of “gaining a new insight.”

This experience has particular relevance to me. When I became a Christian in 1972, an office worker said to me, “So I hear you saw the light . . . ha, ha, ha” (think snigger, smirk, and eye roll). I was and still am unafraid to say, “Yes, I did.”

Mine was not a literal vision with a bright light shining around me, but it was certainly an enlightenment about the message of the Gospel and the truth about the lordship of Jesus Christ. Like Saul of Tarsus, who became the Apostle Paul, it is an experience I wish for everyone.

The Gospel of John characterizes our world as one caught in the grip of a paralyzing and blinding darkness. Only by seeing the light of Christ is the darkness pierced and the heavy burden of blindness lifted. I’d like to think my readers are at least curious enough to learn about that light for themselves.

- Bob -

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