Later, Jesus talked to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness but will have the light that gives life.” [John 8:12 (NCV)]
Morning glories are examples of what botanists call phototropism—they seem to have a built-in clock that tells them to open with the rising sun and close with the setting sun. The blossoms turn toward the sun making them more visible to the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that pollinate them during the day. The moonflower (Ipomoea alba), however, is an exception to the rule. Its inner clock works in reverse. The flowers open quickly in the evening but, as the morning sun rises and touches the bloom, it hides from the light by folding into itself. Unlike its colorful cousins, the white moonflower is pollinated at night by nocturnal hawk-moths.
While taking photos of moonflowers that had not completely shriveled on the vine, I thought of those who reject the light of God’s Word. While preferring darkness works well for the moonflower, it doesn’t work as well for people. At a recent Bible study, our pastor pointed out the three kinds of objections people have to the light of Christ: intellectual, emotional, and volitional. In the first, people may have misconceptions about what the Bible says and the veracity of its words. As God’s gardeners, we can gently (and without argument) help correct those misunderstandings. If these people come to think the light is true, rather than remaining moonflowers, they might turn to God’s light and become morning glories When people reject the light because of their emotions, however, they may have an excellent intellectual understanding of Christianity but reject it for personal reasons. Hypocrisy, a painful experience with a “Christian,” or the failures of the church regarding abuse, morality, prejudice, and righting wrongs may keep them preferring the dark. As God’s workers, our best response is not another Bible verse; it is showing them Jesus in our love, empathy and understanding. After seeing Jesus’ light in action, they may choose to reach for the light as do the morning glories. The third objection is perhaps the most difficult to overcome—it is volitional. These people know the truth of Christianity but conditions like forgiveness, generosity, selflessness, or righteousness are stumbling blocks for them. They see the light (and know its truth) but refuse to turn toward it. Understanding that there is a limit to what we can do, prayer is our strongest response. We must understand that some flowers prefer darkness and may never choose to turn to the light.
While a moonflower can never become a morning glory, an unbeliever can become a believer and glory in His light! In God’s garden, miracles happen and moonflowers can turn into morning glories. That will never happen, however, without our witness!