Summary: God calls His children to go into the darkness and leave their light on.
Light has amazing qualities. It attracts and transforms. Turn on a light in the darkness outside and watch what happens. Every flying critter within range will flock to it. Turn out all the lights at night in your safe, comfortable house and what happens? It becomes a treacherous obstacle course that you could injure or kill yourself in. Turn the lights back on and it’s quite inviting. Light can actually save lives on the road:
“A new study from Cochrane Review finds that reducing traffic crashes is as simple as turning on the lights. Street lighting helps reduce traffic deaths and injuries due to crashes. ‘Darkness is a risk factor – street lighting is therefore a valuable tool,’ said the lead researcher on the project.”
Melissa Haveman at sermonnews.com
Light leads to better health. Full sunlight at midday produces vitamin D which some scientists believe leads to better immunity and protection from heart disease. Studies have shown that opening the blinds during the day helps alleviate the symptoms of dementia in early stage Alzheimer’s patients. It also keeps depression at bay in folks afflicted with bi-polar disorder. Light is way more valuable than simply helping us to see a little better.
One of the big themes of the Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the contrast between dark and light. He’s quite radical in his understanding of the terms. He says that people who are separate from Christ are not simply living in darkness, they are darkness. Christians, on the other hand, do not merely live in God’s light, they are light. When Christians illuminate darkness it doesn’t just make things visible for a while, the light transforms the darkness. The light alters darkness and makes it light too.
If you believe that your duty as a Christian is to have faith, go to church, and hang out in the light, end of story, you’re going to be challenged by what we study this morning. You’ll see that God calls us to take our light into darkness. We are to confront and convince the people of darkness so that they will be exposed to light and then transformed into light.
Christians haven’t been doing too good a job of this of late. Darkness seems to be overtaking our land. That’s why this message is quite timely.
Insights to Illuminate Your World
1. Never be defined by darkness
Among the reasons Laura and I decided to homeschool our kids was our lack of confidence in some of the public school teachers we knew. One of Drake’s elementary school teachers, who will go unnamed, was in the habit of sending notes home about student’s progress or just to convey necessary information to parents. Great idea, but we were shocked at her inability to write proper English. Her letters usually contained obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Yes, I realize that people make mistakes but this was a college educated, NC certified teacher who was instructing my kid in areas where she obviously needed help. You shouldn’t attempt to shed light on areas where you’re in the dark.
The same is true with Christians. One of the reasons darkness is winning in our nation is that too many believers are in darkness themselves. If they do bother to bring others to the light of Christ, their witness is often undermined by their dark lifestyle. That’s why Paul gives this crucial insight:
Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Ephesians 5:7-8a
It’s like Jesus said, before you can remove the speck from another person’s eye you must remove the log from your own. If you attempt to shine your light, yet you’re living in darkness the people of darkness won’t take you seriously. If the only thing different about you is your belief system, but you’re like everyone else in every other way, they’ll see that your so-called faith really makes no practical difference in how you live. To them such an approach says your belief system is the only thing separating the two of you and we all know that it’s easy to pick and choose your belief system on personal preference and style.
Grapple with your personal dark places before attempting to shine your light. How do you do that? Prayerfully ask God to show you what they are. Spend time in His word and pay attention to the prohibitions, the “thou-shalt-nots.” Invite fellow Christians to be honest with you about your dark places. You cannot be perfect, but you can fight the personal sins that might trip you up. Clean up the dark places. Never let them define you.
2. Live with Christ while studying the world
You must go further than squashing personal dark places. To illuminate your world you must actively live out your faith which is far more than a list of dos and don’ts. Here’s Paul’s counsel on the matter: