Summary: We're the light of the world and children of light. Allow that light to shine brightly in our lives to light up those around us. Let’s expose their deeds as we seek to shine brightly for Jesus, so that they may be quickened and made light themselves.
This is an image from my childhood that has just stuck with me. It’s from one of those movies that we used to watch over and over again, at least every holiday. It’s from the last of the original, and good, Star Wars movies. In my mind, it’s one of the pivotal scenes from the whole trilogy. It captures the moment when the hero, Luke Skywalker, is faced with a decision. I loved the way his face is so perfectly divided, with the light and shadow. It represents the struggle that is going on within him. Which way is he going to go? Will he turn to the Dark side of the Force or stick with the Light?
This scene, this image, is so embedded in my memory, that whenever I see someone in similar lighting, I can’t help but remember it. But regardless of the scene around us, it captures a decision that we all must face. Will we walk in light or darkness? It’s a decision we must all make. How will we live?
In the movie that scene is made all the more potent, as there’s only one voice that Luke hears. It’s the voice of Darth Vader, calling him to the Dark, with all kinds of threats and promises.
In the passage from Ephesians that we’re looking at this morning, we have one voice calling out. Its Paul’s and he’s calling out to us, almost shouting, – “Live in Light!” But that’s only because there are so many other voices calling us to live in darkness. The world around us is awash with voices telling us how to live. It comes in the shows we watch, music we listen to, billboards while driving to work, newspapers. Comes from friends and family. We’re constantly bombarded with messages about what we should think, how we should act, about what’s important and what’s not. If you listen, you might think life’s all about Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll. Incidentally these are three things Paul speaks about in this passage, but more on that later!
In verse 6, Paul warns us against being led astray. None of us like being lied to, do we? Paul doesn’t want us to be deceived by the darkness. Their words are deceptive, even empty. There’s no substance, no truth to them. In verse 15, he calls us to be wise, to avoid the foolishness of the world in which we live. We need to recognize that the days are evil. That is, the world around us is evil.
Paul says what is done in the darkness is not just foolish, it’s shameful. In fact, it’s so shameful that it shouldn’t even be mentioned among the saints, among the church. It’s entirely out of place. It’s shameful even to mention what those around us to do secretly, or indeed not so secretly.
There’s always the allure of the clandestine, the secret, the improper. But even worse than just being indecent, foolish or shameful, Paul warns that living in the darkness leads to an ugly end. No fornicator, impure or greedy person has any place in the kingdom of Christ or God. There’s no place for them in the church and no place for them in heaven! God’s wrath is stirred up against these things and those who live in them.
This is a pretty stern warning! And it’s a bit of a worry. As we look at the list of things here in this passage, sexual purity, relational purity, monetary purity, motivational purity, these are all things we struggle with. There are things in this passage I’ve struggled for a long time with. What am I to do? Am I out? Are you out? If we have an impure thought, if we listen to the wrong comedian on TV, if we laugh at the wrong jokes, are we done for? Are we no longer in Christ if we do any of these things?
I don’t think Paul is saying if we struggle with these things, we’re out. If that were the case, Paul wouldn’t bother writing encouraging us to take off the old and put on the new. He’d just say, “Sorry. It’s too late, you had your chance.” No. It’s a warning that those who persist in them, those who could be labeled as such are not showing in their lives that they are in Christ. It’s a warning to take seriously the command for us to live seeking what is pleasing to the Lord, not what is pleasing to myself. It’s a warning not to persist in our disobedience, but to strive towards bearing fruit that is right and pure.
Paul warns that we shouldn’t even be associated with those who persist in their disobedience. He’s not endorsing cutting ourselves off from the world, retreating to a Christian ghetto somewhere. We’re not to be associated with their deeds, their actions. There should be a clear distinction between those who are in Christ and those who are not, between those who are light and those who are darkness.