I love to read C. S. Lewis so you can imagine my delight in discovering one of his early short stories lately published in 1977. This particular story was found hiding in a bound notebook. Though many questioned its authenticity, a later revision in Lewis’s own hand, along with the testimony of Douglas Gresham who remembered Lewis, his stepfather, reading it to him, settled the issue.
“The Man Born Blind,” or later titled simply, “Light,” is the story of Robin, a man who, after receiving his sight from a miracle surgery, struggled to understand light. The description of light from the seeing world didn’t suffice, making him wonder if light was just a fairytale. Robin found himself between two worlds, no longer blind but still “unseeing.”
The apostle Paul warned the believers in Ephesus of this very danger. Ephesians is a book of contrasts. Paul began by reminding the believers of what they were, as opposed to what they had become. They were once darkness, alienated from the light of God, and controlled by unrestrained passions. But now, through Christ’s blood, they had been brought near to God, made alive, saved, resurrected, and seated in heavenly realms. They, along with all who know Christ, were saved to do good works as opposed to the works our desires produce. And if we are to walk worthy of Christ’s call, we must step out of the dark and into the light.
Our Love Looks Different in the Light
A stroll in the light starts with a redeemed love. Paul wanted followers of Christ to follow a new way to love. Love looks different in the dark than in the light. Love in the dark was dictated by our passions. It had self at the center. Paul warned, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed . . . obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking” (Ephesians 5:3, 4). Sexual images, innuendo, and jokes saturate our culture. This kind of love operates in the dark.
Finding himself on his own one morning, Robin of C. S. Lewis’s story decided it was easier to walk in darkness than with this new gift of sight. He closed his eyes, and instead of letting the light of sight guide him, his other senses took over. He walked through the house, ate a meal, and even read a book by touch. He found comfort in the darkness because it was familiar. It was still an easier way of life because he hadn’t yet been schooled in the joy of sighted life.
We, like Robin, can fall into this same trap. Unredeemed love is our default. Yet Paul reminds us that those who walk in the light have a different kind of love. This love is as different as black is from white. It’s how Christ loves. This love doesn’t keep its own pleasure in mind, as does a love rife with sexually immoral thoughts and acts, or greediness for possessions, but it sacrifices. This love has the pleasure and the good of others as its goal.
Our Impact on Our World Is Different in the Light
Not only that, but this illuminated walk has a different impact on our world. This manner of life is steeped “in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). This week our state has been in the throes of deciding whether a woman can have an abortion up to the time of birth. So the church in Rhode Island mobilized, taking our signs and protests to the statehouse, to make our voice heard for the unborn. One senator directed our family to a room to view the proceedings. Here the people from Planned Parenthood had also gathered. We didn’t intend to hackle or debate them. We just wanted to watch the debate on closed-circuit television. However, our signs and our baby gave us away. The Planned Parenthood supporters fidgeted and whispered among themselves at first, trying to figure out what to do with us. We just sat quietly against the wall, watching the TV, but before long, our presence became intolerable, and they asked us to leave. The light in our walk was doing exactly what light does: the good became visible and exposed the darkness.
But even better than exposing the works of darkness, our walk in the light reveals to others the good news of the gospel. We, with our lives and words, call to those poor souls in darkness, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you” (v. 14). This new life in the light impacts our world with the good news. Though some will simply be reminded and emboldened to do what is right, some will embrace the good news of the gospel that we proclaim.
Our Approach to Life Is Different in the Light
Last, our walk looks different in its approach. Paul reminds us to “be very careful, then, how we live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). Our new approach in this life of light is characterized by urgency because life is brief. Children of light embrace opportunities to accomplish our part in God’s plan. As we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, he animates our pace and bears his fruit in us. Those around us are bathed in love, joy, and peace. They are treated with forbearance, kindness, and goodness. They know the safety of people who are faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
This life in the light is Word rich. The one on this path makes decisions with a biblical perspective. And the best part is that a walk in the light is not done alone. It is a walk with others whose hearts have been changed, fellow travelers who encourage and exhort one another to put one foot in front of the other when the road gets steep.
In the end, this life in the light changes us completely. Lewis’s short story, scholars surmise, was a chronicle of his own search for the “Light.” At the end of the story, the man born blind ventures outdoors. In his desperate search, he approaches the edge of a quarry where the rays of the sun are strong. When a painter on the path points out the hollow of the quarry where a pool of fog has caught the light in its vapor, Robin mistakes this for “the Light” and with abandon throws himself in the quarry and disappears into its depths.
Lewis understood a truth it takes some believers, still caught between two worlds, a while to grasp. You just have to jump. You have to turn your back on the familiar works of darkness—that isn’t who you are anymore—and plant both feet on the path of light. It’s a risk for sure. Love in the light makes one vulnerable. After all, others may exploit this sacrificial love. Some may oppose the goodness and truth of the light or worse, friends still in darkness might find the light uncomfortable and avoid the light’s impact. The disciplines of communion, submission, and service to accomplish God’s plan may mean our plan must be abandoned. But when one walks in the light, the brilliance of the light grows, changing our love from selfish to sacrificial, our impact from indistinct to distinguished, and our approach from haphazard to intentional. This life, wholly given to God, is worthy of our calling. It is life in the light.
Joy Crichton is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, and math teacher in Johnston, Rhode Island.