If I Am a Child of the Light, How Do I Relate to the World of Darkness?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Everything exposed by the light becomes visible... This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Ephesians uses the graphic imagery of light and darkness to help us understand our relationship to the world that is separate from Christ. Before we received God's grace through faith, we lived in the world of darkness. In fact, we "were once darkness" (5:8). But now, because of God's grace in Christ, we are "light in the Lord" and "children of light" (5:8). As we live out our "lightness," we bear the fruit of light—goodness, righteousness, and truth—and in so doing, we please the Lord (5:9-10).
But how do we relate to the dark world from which we came? Should we continue to be connected with the people from that world, or should we withdraw into the purity and safety of the enlightened community of God's people in Christ? And if we remain somehow engaged with that world that is separate from Christ and his light, what should be the nature of our engagement?
Ephesians responds to these questions in 5:11-14. Yet, the answers in this text could be easily missed or misconstrued. So, in the days to come, we will look closely at this passage and its guidance for us as we wonder how to relate to the darkness in which we continue to live even when we are light in the Lord.
Ephesians 5:11-14 reads in the NIV translation: "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: 'Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' " As we read this passage, we sense an apparent tension within it. The first half takes a rather dim view of darkness and seems to suggest that we back away from it altogether: "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness" (5:11). Yet, the second half of the passage speaks of everything becoming exposed by the light and even becoming light (5:13). Those "sleepers" who are "dead" are summoned to wake up so that Christ might shine his light on them (5:14). Thus, the light shines into the darkness and even transforms it.
Today, I simply want to point to the tension in our passage and invite you to feel it, consider it, and pray about it. As you wrestle with what God is saying here, I pray that he opens your mind and heart to a deeper understanding of your relationship to the world that is separate from Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you read Ephesians 5:11-14, what thoughts and feelings do you have? What intrigues you? What perplexes you? What do you find peculiar, even distasteful? Where would you like to grow in your understanding of this passage?
PRAYER: Gracious God, God who is light, thank you once again for adopting me to be a child of light. Thank you for calling me to reflect your light into the world.
As I think about the world, dark because of its separation from you, veiled in the gloom of sin, I want to know how I should relate to this world. Help me, I pray, to understand more deeply what it means for me to be light in the dark world, so that I might reflect your truth, grace, and holiness in every part of my life.
All praise be to you, O God, because you have called your people out of darkness into your wonderful light (1 Pet. 2:9). Amen.
Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype
When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this week's series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.
Featured image above by Jhong Dizon. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.