The creation narratives, both in Genesis and elsewhere in the Old Testament, show God as the ultimate creator of all that is. The opening verses of Genesis 1 speak of a dark empty nothingness, and into this condition God speaks, ‘Let there be light’.
Light is the foundation of life: the essential building-block, created on the First Day. It is so foundational that we can live in it and yet miss its beauty and wonder. We are completely dependent on light. We need it to grow our food and give us Vitamin D. We need light to send images of things around us to our brains so our eyes can see and, without light, there is no colour. While we will not see God face-to-face until Jesus comes again, light enables us to perceive the world he has created that shows us something of his beauty.
Access to light and electricity is hugely important, and we have seen giant leaps forward over recent decades, with the latest figures putting the global electrification rate at 89 percent. However, there are still about 840 million people without electricity.
While access to light, electricity and energy in general is crucial, it is important to consider the source of that energy. Electricity is one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions, and if we are to provide light to the world we will have to do that in ways that use renewable sources and neither pollute the environment nor pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
If we are to move away from fossil fuels in the way we need to, and enable people to keep the lights on, all of us are required to act. Together there is much that we can – and indeed must – do. We can start by reducing the amount of energy we consume by favouring energy-efficient lights and appliances and making sure we turn things off when we are not using them.
As leading atmospheric scientist Canadian Katharine Hayhoe says, ‘I don’t have to change the world all by myself, I just need to partner in the work God wants us to do’.