The Phototrophic Life

Grow Towards the Glow: Part One

I don’t really remember a lot of my biology study at school. If my biologist friends could look away now then I’ll admit, I found it really boring. There are seven characteristics of life and to a teenage boy only one is of any interest; to a Christian teenage boy? That was off limits too. Biology felt like it was just a way to give us a science lesson where we couldn’t burn down the science labs. I somehow passed science, however, and one of the things that I do remember is phototropism.

Phototropism is directional growth in which the direction of growth is determined by the direction of the light source.

Or, more simply, it’s the reason so many plants grow towards the sunlight. One of the most amazing things about God is how He permeated all He created with so much purpose. If a plant is full of purpose then how much more us? And if you don’t think a plant is full of purpose, then why would things exist that were both beautiful and are providers of the very oxygen we need to live? Just as we learn about Caravaggio by analysing his brushstrokes, we can learn things about God by looking at His work. We can look at these comparitively simple organisms and learn about the way to grow.

Naturally, of course, any thing we look at in order to learn more can’t come from head knowledge from school or college or wherever. As my Pastor, Jon Cook, spoke about at church a few weeks ago, everything must be calibrated to the word of God. Truth is not relative, it’s absolute and it’s measured by the word. Nature might bare witness to God’s creation but it’s the creator not the created that brings truth. Over the next few blog posts I want to write about growth and health, both personal and as churches, as a response to light.

The importance of light runs right through the bible. If we go right back to the very beginning we see that the first thing God did was command light into being. He did not start His work of creation until He had brought forth light and, after He did so, He saw that it was good.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”
-Genesis 1:1-4

The first thing God did, before He created life, was to create light. Before He created living things He put into place the environment in which they would prosper. He called forth light and then life, likewise His work in our lives begins not with us but as a response to His light. As the apostle Peter says so eloquently he has called out of darkness into his marvellous light.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
– 1 Peter 2:9

We’re called into marvellous light. Our whole lives are called forth to grow into the light. A quick glance into the book of John shows us, if there was any doubt, exactly what the light is.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘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

For me this scripture is at the centre of the way we do life. If we’re called forth into light then the light source becomes of the greatest importance and here we are again with Jesus in the centre. Growing towards the glow is growing closer to Jesus; like the plant that points itself to get maximum exposure to sunlight we need to angle ourselves towards Jesus. Just as everything about the plant comes from its position in relationship to the sun, everything about us should come from our position in relationship to the son.

Just as at creation God created the environment for life to thrive by setting that light in place, so through Jesus we come into an environment where we can thrive, where growth is a natural effect of His presence and where multiplication, generosity, and life in abundance grow as parts of our very being. The essential and key ingredient to our growth is how we are positioned in relation to Jesus; this effects not only how we ourselves develop but should also effect our relationship to church and to others.

In the next few blog posts I hope to look in a little more depth at how living life in this way positions us for growth not just as an individual but as part of the body of Christ.

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Photo from Graham Keen, used under Creative Commons Licence.

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