The music world reeled in shock this week with the news of Whitney Houston’s death. Whether you liked her music or not, she possessed an amazing voice and range. Starting out in church, Whitney soon became a pop phenomenon, but soon the success became more than she could handle and still keep her hand on the light switch. She let the room go dark as she fell into a life destroyed by alcohol and drugs, leading to her untimely death.
In Ephesians, Paul now turns to specifics, contrasting life in the darkness and in the light. He challenges the believer to keep his hand on the switch, that is, to stay in the light. Read Ephesians 5:8-20.
We all know about darkness, having awakened at least once in the night, disoriented and not sure where the switch might be. It is amazing how the lack of light can change everything. We walked in darkness, and some of you still do, I dare say. This darkness comes from the assumption that we know best what is good for our lives and that God is not applicable. It also comes to us honestly, as we are born into this darkened world, although with the innocence of a child, destined to become cynical and self-seeking without God’s presence in our lives.
Paul encouraged the Ephesians: “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (v.8). He is speaking to the believers. Having once met Christ does not guarantee we will always be in the light. Choosing the light, choosing to follow and remain IN Christ is a daily, often momentary, choice that we make by choosing to live, through God’s Spirit and our commitment, as Christ lived. “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (vv. 9,10).
How do we find out what pleases the Lord? By attending church, listening to the message, reading the Bible and discussing it with other believers, spending time in prayer—these are some of the ways to stay in the light. On the other side, we make choices that keep us in the light by rejecting those things that are, as Paul labels them, “the fruitless deeds of darkness.” We are to expose those things, not necessarily by judging or by gossip (definitely not by gossip!), but by reflecting God’s light in our lives so brightly that it will expose even the smallest amount of filth, providing an opportunity, once again, for redemption wherever we shine.
In that vein, my friends, the goal is ALWAYS redemption when we are dealing with our own darkness or that of others! Our job is not to judge and condemn, but to reach out and provide the light so that others may find redemption, no matter how wicked or terrible their sins may be. You may not like someone or what they have done, but your job is to be Christ to them, to show them in your own life what the grace and mercy of Christ can do: “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” (vv. 13,14).
I think Paul said it best, so I will let him finish the article:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (vv 15-18).
Choose life! Keep the switch of God’s light on in your life, not by legalism, but by your choice to allow God’s Spirit to live through you!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor Ebenezer Church firstname.lastname@example.org