We often separate things into categories, which are mutually exclusive. It is useful to do so, to figure out where things fit into the world. For example, a specific kind of mushroom is either edible or poisonous. A threat is either real or imaginary. These are useful categories, I am sure you agree.
God is light. We find this in scripture several times. And the authors even elaborate on that to say that there is no darkness in Him. This is one of those cases where the opposing categories is useful and holds true.
1 John 1:5 (WEBBE): 5This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
James 1:17 (WEBBE): 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.
John 8:12 (WEBBE): 12Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”
But this sort of model is not useful in all cases. Not everything is separated by nature. And if we artificially separate these things we don’t see the full picture. Consider this question: Is anger physical or emotional? Well, it is both, at the same time! (If you have never observed your body while feeling angry, here is an article about the Physiology of Anger.) If we say that anger is only physical or only emotional, we loose sight of an aspect of its nature.
God is light, this we are sure of. But the question remains whether this is physical light that scientists can measure, or something spiritual that cannot be detected.
So lets look at the very first mention of light in the Bible – in the very first chapter.
Genesis 1:3-5 (WEBBE): 3God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw the light, and saw that it was good. God divided the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night”. There was evening and there was morning, the first day.
In verse 3, God spoke light into existence. On its own, that makes sense to our human minds. But it becomes more complicated when we get to verse 14.
Genesis 1:14-19 (WEBBE): 14God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs to mark seasons, days, and years; 15and let them be for lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth;” and it was so. 16God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light to the earth, 18and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
So there was light before the creation of the sun and the moon?! Where could it come from if the sun didn’t exist yet? God Himself was the source. John starts his gospel right from the beginning too, and he adds some interesting information.
John 1:1-4 (WEBBE): 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The life flowing from Jesus, already in the beginning, was the light of men. This sounds like it has only spiritual meaning. But now consider this – can the sun and the moon divide spiritual, metaphorical light? Unlikely. So is this light physical or spiritual? I would say it is both!
Now lets fast forward to the second to last chapter in the Bible – Revelation 21. Here is a description of the new earth, where God will again be the only illumination necessary.
Revelation 21:23 (WEBBE): 23The city has no need for the sun or moon to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Now the point of the whole long exposition is this: Is God physical or spiritual? Both! Can God save me from my sin? Of course! Can He change my physical condition? Of course!
Don’t limit what you can experience of God by putting Him into a limited category of your own making. If you choose to only be saved from sin, that is all that you will have. But if you choose to embrace the fullness of God’s love and grace and power, there is so much more!