“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16, KJV
Before the development of the safety lamp for use in coal mines, dried fish skins and fireflies were used in Britain and Europe as a weak source of light. There are some organisms which emit light coming from their own bodies. This extraordinary physical attribute is known as bioluminescence.
To quote Wikipedia, “[b]ioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms and terrestrial invertebrates. Some symbiotic organisms carried within larger organisms produce light.” This light is caused by some enzymes and pigments present in their bodies. Technically, bioluminescence is a form of chemiluminiscence where light energy is released by a chemical reaction. It is said that the French pharmacologist Raphael Dubois carried out early work on bioluminescence.
By etymology, bioluminescence originated from the Greek bios for “living” and the Latin lumen for “light”.
As Christians, we also emit some kind of light. This light is readily visible as we are living in a world of darkness. However, some Christians hide their ray of light in this so dark a world. In turn, people around them cannot see this light. The Bible tells us that we should let our light shine that we may glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
Bioluminiscence in the natural world has its uses and benefits. Just as it is in nature, our bioluminescence has its purpose. Let us enumerate three of these uses and relate them to our Christian life.
“For some organisms, bioluminescence can be used as a tool to attract other organisms. For example, the attraction of mates is seen actively in fireflies, which use periodic flashing in their abdomens to attract mates in the mating season. In the marine environment, use of luminescence for mate attraction is well documented only in ostracods (small shrimplike crustaceans).”
Our light should also attract. It may not be necessarily your mate but it may be your friends, family, and the people around you. Your light should enlighten them that you are a Christian who was saved by Christ Jesus from eternal damnation. Your light should not discourage them. Rather, it should lead them nearer to Christ.
“The ability to bioluminesce can serve as a protection against enemies. For instance, dinoflagellates may use bioluminescence for defense against predators. They shine when they detect a predator, possibly making the predator itself more vulnerable by attracting the attention of predators from higher trophic levels. A South American giant cockroach, Lucichomertica lukae, uses bioluminescence to mimic the toxic Pyrophorus beetle for defensive purposes.”
Our light can also serve as a defense against our enemy. We should make our lights strong enough to make our enemy blind. Incessant prayers and doing the will of God can make this light aflame. We can make our bioluminescence a protection when we know certainly who we should serve. When our enemy attempts to prey on us, we can use our light to shoo him out of our lives. We should just keep ourselves busy doing what God desires and wills.
“Communication (quorum sensing) plays a role in the regulation of luminesence in many species of bacteria. Using small extracellularly secreted molecules, they turn on genes for light production only at high cell densities.”
Just like these bacteria, we can use our bioluminescent ability to communicate to other “species”. This is to say, we, as Christians, bear the responsibility of establishing a connection to the world. This connection is not that connection which most of us think of. This connection means that we should reach them out and bring them in. We should tell them the gospel, the greatest story ever told and written. We should tell them that someone from above saved them from their sins and unrighteousness, and this is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. We should serve as witnesses of Christ. This defines our Christianity. Sharing to others the love of Christ, exemplified by His crucifixion at Calvary, is an offshoot of our bioluminescence.
Just like bioluminescent organisms, we are unique but that uniqueness carries with it a certain weight. We should maintain a good testimony so that others who are living in pitch-black darkness can see the light. This light does not solely come from us. This comes from God. As Christians, let us make ourselves bioluminescent. When no one else can, we at least should glow in this penumbra of darkness. Let us put our key verse today into reality. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
*Credits to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioluminescence (2012) for the aforementioned facts regarding bioluminescence