Summary: When we live into the grace of God the light within us produces what is good, exposes and transforms darkness into light.
Series: Lenten Grace
1. On the First Sunday of Lent we discovered that God’s grace extends beyond Eden.
2. On the Second Sunday in Lent we were reminded that God’s grace is a better way than our works way.
3. On the Third Sunday in Lent we observed in Jesus’ example that God’s grace knows no barriers.
4, Today…on the Fourth Sunday in Lent we see that God’s graces transforms darkness into light.
Title: Grace for Goodness: Transforming Darkness into Light
Text: Ephesians 5:8-14
Thesis: When we live into the grace of God the light within us produces what is good and exposes and transforms darkness into light.
If you watch any cable television at all you know that there are numerous cultures within our larger culture as a country. Our country is not all Capital Hills and Cherry Creeks. It’s Duck Dynasty. Swamp People. Mountain Men. Diggers. Dickerers. Ice Road Truckers. American Pickers. The Kardasians. It’s NPR. It’s my favorite - Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern.
Bizarre Foods focuses on regional cuisine from around the world which is typically perceived by Americans as being disgusting, exotic, or bizarre. In each episode, Zimmern focuses on the cuisine of a particular country or region. He typically shows how the food is procured, where it is served, and, usually without hesitation, eats it. (Bizarre Foods America, Wikipedia)
Every culture is different or has its own unique culture. Culture is defined as a pattern of human belief and behavior or the customary belief and social norms of a social group. A culture is a group of people living by the same standards.
I read an interesting article that ran in the Washington Post last November citing the existence of 11 separate nation states in the United States where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. In mapping the 11 nation states within the United States they cited the distribution of linguistic dialects, prevalence of different religious denominations and a county by county breakdown of voting in every hotly contested presidential race in our history. (Reid Wilson, Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?, the Washington Post, November 8, 2013)
Among the 11 nations states are The Left Coast, The Far West, The Midlands, El Norte, New France, Deep South, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, New Netherlands, and Yankeedom. All these regions reflect numerous cultures within the greater culture of our country.
Similarly we have two distinct cultures within the greater culture we may think of as Spiritual Cultures of Darkness and Light…
People living in darkness have beliefs and practice behaviors consistent with those beliefs that are normal and acceptable in the culture of darkness.
People living in light have beliefs and practice behaviors consistent with those beliefs that are normal and acceptable within the culture of light.
The first culture is the culture of spiritual darkness.
I. Living in Darkness
Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity or greed among you… obscene stories, foolish talk, and course jokes are not for you. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t participate in the things these people do. Ephesians 5:3-7
In reading that we see that it is written to Christians giving them instruction as “how not to live” so conversely we may understand that reading as descriptive of the person living in darkness.
So we might ask, why do people live in darkness? It is because
“Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.” Ephesians 4:17-19 And because “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.” II Corinthians 4:4
There is a website called the “Experience Project” and describes itself as a place to share “life experiences from people like you.” As of January of this year the site had over 36 million visitors who were asked to share some thoughts about their life experiences.
In one post readers were asked to respond to the statement: “I prefer darkness over light.” This is what one young woman wrote: I prefer darkness over light because the darkness allows me to hide who I am and how I feel. In the light all things have a chance to be revealed… darkness makes it easier to hide. The darkness is a place you can lose yourself. Lost in the dark is a great place to be because then you are free from what you were and can be what you want. The darkness is bliss.”
Bliss is not exactly how our text speaks of darkness.