I’ve been studying Ephesians one section at a time for the last month or two. I was struck this a.m. by the powerful illlustration used in chapter 5, verses 8-14, about light and darkness.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. 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. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.
Stay with me for a second as we relate Paul’s exhortation here to the apostle John’s description in his gospel, chapter 3, verses 18-21:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
The things of this world are contrasted in stark opposition to the things of Christ’s kingdom. They’re like darkness and light. Followers of Jesus are told to expose the "fruitless deeds of darkness." In other words, we are to allow our actions, habits, relationships, conversations and decisions be ones that glorify God and bring others closer to Him, not ones that are selfish, forgetful of others, and apathetic.
Many of our personal vices are excused on a daily basis. We refuse to classify them as sin even though they fit well with being "fruitless" and hurtful to ourselves or others. To classify them as sinful would require repentance and action. However, as long as we can consider them foibles or folly, we seem content to continue.
I would suggest we adopt the biblical worldview of seeing things as light and dark. Those who follow Christ should progress further into the light, allowing it to expose what truly belongs in our lives as followers of Christ and what may actually be classified as being part of the dark. This growth and progression into luminescence is a lifetime journey, but there’s no excuse allowed for inactivity today. The peril of a spiritual procrastinator is described well in Ephesians 5.15-17:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
We should be "very careful" about our decisions and pursuits. Let’s not allow our moral laziness to coddle our personal "failures" when they’re actually deeds of darkness. I call this reading lamp righteousness. When I sit under a reading lamp, the rest of the room is usually dimly lit, or not lit at all. The reading lamp gives me just enough light to read by, but not enough light to read anything with clarity across the room. I have limited scope and perception under a reading lamp.
For many, that is the length to which they’ve followed the Lord. They allow Him to be their reading lamp, to illuminate a little about their lives. However, He has not yet become for them the Light of the world.
I’m reminded of the scene in Bug’s Life where the moths are drawn inexorably to the bright light saying, "I can’t help it. It’s so pretty." Fortunately for us all, the light of God doesn’t kill us like a bugzapper, but it does transform us.
Perhaps it’s time for us to turn on the lights on our attitudes, behavior, decisions, and conversations.