The Light of Christ

“The Light of Christ,” Liahona, August 2021

Come, Follow Me

The Light of Christ

Doctrine and Covenants 88

“This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:7).

Light and Space: The Universe

Image by Cary Henrie

Doctrine and Covenants 88:7–10 speaks of how truth “shineth” and is the Light of Christ. It says that He is in or is the light of the sun, moon, and stars and is the power thereof by which they and the earth were made.

Light is one of the most profound and essential entities in all of nature. It transports energy, warmth, and information across the cold emptiness of space in a way that science is still trying to comprehend. We know of only two things it could possibly be: a stream of particles called “photons” or an energetic wave in a continuous “field” traversing space. Despite significant efforts spanning hundreds of years, we still cannot say which of these it is, for it seems to be both at once.

Of course, our lack of understanding does not keep us from benefiting from light. Light from the sun warms and energizes the earth, making life possible. We live our daily lives only because we can see, and we can see only because light flows into the immensity of space from all things that glow or reflect. Light allows us to know and learn when it touches our eyes. Because of light, we can act, progress, and grow. Take away light and all would be an icy, unedifying desolation. People in places devoid of light can only stumble in darkness.

Small wonder, then, that truth that shineth is equated with the Light of Christ. Truth and with it charity, peace, righteousness, and all good things flow from the Savior to us. Just as physical light gives us understanding of physical things when it touches our eyes, the Light of Christ gives us understanding of spiritual things when it touches our hearts. Because the universe is filled with the Light of Christ, we can spiritually learn, progress, and grow. Take away the Light of Christ and all would be a meaningless, unedifying desolation. People devoid of this light stumble in the icy darkness of error, having no guidance.

These verses of scripture say that Christ is light and the power by which the bodies in the heavens were made. Astronomers will say that forces from gravity, heat, and atomic interactions created the stars, sun, earth, and moon and gave them the natures they have. This is true, but to paraphrase Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, we in science describe how these creative forces work without really knowing why they are what they are. Asking why is asking what the purpose of forces really is. These scriptures tell us that Christ, and with Him the work and glory of God in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (see Moses 1:39), is in the very purpose and reason for having a physical universe in the first place.

Physical light serves as a symbol for the spiritual Light of Christ. We learn from Doctrine and Covenants 88:11 that there may be a greater connection than just a metaphor. This scripture says, “And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings.” This seems to suggest that physical light and spiritual light are different manifestations of the same thing. Perhaps the essence of light is difficult for science to understand because scientific inquiry alone does not give a complete picture. It may be that an understanding of light must enfold the very nature of Jesus Christ Himself to be complete. When we at last understand the processes through which God enlightens us, then and only then will we understand the nature of physical light as well, and with it the nature of His universe.