Summary: Let the Son Shine! 1) On you; 2) Through you
Even if the temperatures don’t always reflect it, the position of the sun proves it. Spring is on its way! Sure there is still lots of snow on the ground and the sidewalks are plenty icy, but the sun keeps climbing higher and staying longer in the sky – a sure sign of spring’s approach. I’m thankful for the sunlight because it puts a spring in my winter dreary steps. In fact that the longer I spend in the sunshine, the more cheery my outlook on life.
Even if the sun should disappear behind thick clouds so that we don’t see it for a while, the Apostle Paul tells us about another kind of Son light that shines on us and through us. That light is from God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s see what difference that light makes in our lives and in the lives of others.
Winter is long enough here the way it is that I can’t imagine living above the Arctic Circle and enjoying it – at least not during winter when the sun doesn’t shine at all. I suppose what makes winter-life bearable above the Arctic Circle is artificial light. Without streetlamps or indoor lighting, people in Arctic communities would have a hard time getting anything done during winter months.
It’s not a lot of fun being in the dark is it? That’s why when you come home late at night you first switch on the lights. If you don’t, you’ll run into the coffee table, or you’ll trip over toys that never got put away. That’s what the sin we inherited from our parents does to us. Sin makes us stumble through life. It blinds us so that we trip over God’s commandments. Inherited sin causes us to blindly lash out at one another, to be jealous and suspicious instead of loving and honouring. To make matters worse, we excuse our sin. We say that the person we yelled at had it coming. Such excuses only plunge us further into darkness as it causes cataracts of denial to film over our conscience.
But Paul tells us in our text this morning that we weren’t just in the dark; he says that we were darkness. In other words, we brought darkness to others through our sinful ignorance. Like the surgeon or dentist operating in the dark who botches the job because he can’t see, our sinful ignorance of God’s Word harmed family members and friends through the bad spiritual advice we gave them. For example we may have told them at one time that it was O.K. to be angry at someone who hurt them, or that overdrinking was an acceptable way to blow off steam. Such advice, however, didn’t them bring them closer to God, it sent them farther away from him.
No, it’s no good being in the dark for those who stay in the dark in this life will have to live in the darkness of hell forever in the next. But the Apostle Paul gives us hope. He says in our text that we are no longer in the dark because the Son, God’s Son, shines on us. How does Jesus shine on us? He does so through God’s Word. God’s Word shows us what is acceptable and unacceptable in God’s eyes. More importantly it shows us what Jesus has done to secure forgiveness for us. Like the innocent bystander who gets arrested and charged for the bank robbery, Jesus was charged by his heavenly Father for our sins. He paid for those sins willingly and completely through his death on the cross. Jesus’ blood does more than forgive us; it washes away the blindness sin causes so that now we can properly see what God’s will is for our lives.
The Apostle Paul goes on to say that the Son’s light not only shines on us but through us (Eph. 5:8). Perhaps we could think of what Paul meant like this. A little boy was asked by his Sunday School teacher what a saint was. He thought for a moment and then pointed to the stained-glass windows in the church and said: “A saint is someone the light shines through” (source of illustration unknown). Isn’t that a wonderful illustration of how those who know and believe what Jesus has done for them will reflect God’s love in the way that they live their lives? Accordingly Paul said that children of the light will live in goodness, righteousness, and truth (Eph. 5:9) and have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:11). Instead of thinking about how to gratify sinful cravings, children of light will think about how to bring glory to God and let his light shine in this dark world through us.
So how well do we do living as children of the light? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we live more like children of twilight. We think it’s perfectly O.K. to keep one foot in darkness as long as the other foot is still in the light. So we go ahead and cheat on our homework, and make fun of the new kid in class thinking it’s excusable as long as we still read our Bible and go to church. After all that’s more than what most of the other kids do at school so we can’t be all that bad can we? The thing is, there is no such thing as children of the twilight. God says we are either children of light or children of dark. I’m not saying as children of light we’ll never cross the line into darkness but it should never be something we don’t regret doing. Children of light will want to stay away from the deeds of darkness because they know that they are fruitless. Sinful living only leads to broken homes, broken bodies, and broken minds. That’s why Jesus saved us from our sins so that we wouldn’t have to suffer its eternal consequences.