bible christianity ethics theology

lit up

theological musing:

I just picked up an other-than-standard-size light bulb for new place.  It reminded me of working for a lumber/hardware store in which I had to order, merchandise, and sell (among various other things) lighting supplies. It’s all bulbs and fixtures when it comes to lighting, really.

But then there’s another way to do lighting.  Focus, redirect, or otherwise use natural light (i.e. sky-lights).

This (I don’t remember how exactly) got me thinking about different ways of thinking about Christian Spirituality.

In once sense, you could conceive electric lighting as humanly engineered (i.e. trying to live the Christian life in your own strength), and natural lighting as divinely sourced (i.e. 100% of the Spirit living the life of Jesus in/through me, and 0% of me).

I wonder if another sense might take more account of the entire New Testament?  Maybe a ‘both/and’ understanding?  After all, whilst humans may take wood, metal, sand/glass and create fixtures and bulbs, they didn’t create any of them, nor did they call electricity into being.

The NT picture includes images of ‘partnering’ or ‘co-labouring’ with God, ‘striving and labouring’ but not with one’s own strength (as if we could create the charge), but ‘according to the energy that He energises in me with power (Colossians 1:29)’.

(Few translations do this verse well.  “…κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἐμοὶ ἐν δυνάμει.”  Transliteration w/ literal notes: “…kata [according to] ton energeian [the ‘energy’] autou ton energoumenon [?? the energising??] en emoi [in me] en dunamei [in/with ‘dynamite’/power].”  Dale’s translation [as if he knows what the heck he’s doing]: “…according to the energy which He energises in me with power.”  Or – shifting the syntax around for ease of Englishness – “…according to the energy which is powerfully energised in me.”)

Perhaps the difference would be between a lovely yet non-light-giving light bulb or fixture which has no connection to the power source, and a functioning one that does.  The analogy can have quite a few extensions tacked on to it as well, but I’ll refrain :)

4 replies on “lit up”

I remember the days of you working for for the hardware/lumber company. Those days are in my distant past, as well.

If you’re ever up for it, there is an interesting science demonstration about salt and light. Although we’ve been led to believe that water is a good conductor of electricity, it is actually a very poor conductor. However, the impurities in the water conduct electricity quite well.

Anyways, your post about light, the source of power, etc., reminded me of this illustration.

If you begin with electrodes at opposite ends of a tank of distilled water and the water as a part of the complete circuit to a light bulb, you’ll find that the circuit is broken at the tank of water. As you add salt to the water, the bulb will begin to glow; the more salt, the brighter the bulb.

Hey Dale, Good thoughts. I miss our “theological” discussions! In the end it seems to me that even though we participate in the work, all the glory goes to God, because He supplies everything we need. Also John’s comment’s about water being a poor conductor, made me think how true it is because when rain water (water without all the impurities) freezes on power lines it doesn’t short circuit everything.

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