4th Sunday of Lent (A) March 2, 2008
Live in the Light (Ephesians 5:3-14)
Benjamin Franklin writes in his autobiography about his efforts to convince the citizens of Philadelphia to light the streets at night. His words didn’t work. He bought an attractive lantern, polished the glass and placed it on a long bracket that extended from the front of his house. Each evening as darkness descended, he lit the wick. His neighbors soon noticed the warm glow in front of his house; passersby found the light helped them avoid tripping over protruding stones. Soon others placed lanterns in front of their homes, and eventually the city recognized the need for having well-lighted streets.
Ours is a world of darkness, but “the light of the world is Jesus.”Out of our love relationship with Him we are called to “walk as children of light” (v.8). What a difference that would make on our streets, in our homes, at school, work and in church. Imagine a mobile living light pole!
There is a difference between those in darkness and those in the Light. The former “love darkness…practice evil…walk in darkness” while the individual who knows Christ “does the truth…comes to the light…follows me.” To walk in the light you must experience the radical transformation of the Holy Spirit. He saves us out of sin and enables us to walk in the light of Christ’s new life. The truth of this transformation is expressed in Ephesians: “you once walked” (2:1-2) and now “you should no longer walk” (4:17).
Live in the Light and adopt a new lifestyle (vv. 3-4).
Sexual immorality, impurity and greed are “improper for God’s holy people” (v.3). The Apostle warns against the results of a loose tongue, obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking, as inappropriate for the Christian lifestyle (v. 4). These are only a few examples of the old lifestyle.
Critics often charge Christians with being legalistic and negative – “Tell me what to do rather than what not to do.” However, life has both yes and no. Living in the light involves saying no to the darkness. Some lifestyle actions turn out the light.
Live in the Light and avoid the consequences of sin (vv. 5-7).
These verses do not mean we lose our salvation. They do mean that the person who continues to practice sin has probably never come into the light (1 John 3:7-9). Also, the Christian who continues to practice sin will certainly face the chastisement of a loving God. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked…the one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction.”We reap what we sow!
A former governor and congressman hit and killed a man while speeding in his automobile. He eventually lost his seat in Congress and said, “I’m sorry; if I could go back and change it I would.” The best way to avoid the consequences of sin is to avoid the sin.
One of the evidences of a genuine relationship with Christ is that we experience conviction and chastening when we step out of the light. Walk in the Light now and avoid the consequences of sin.
Live in the Light and become proactive in following Christ (vv.8-14).
Since we are light in the Lord, we are called to “live as children of light” (v. 8).We will act like one of His family instead of one of the devil’s children. The fruit of the light is “all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (v. 9). The standard is “what pleases the Lord” (vv.10, 17). Other standards are unacceptable – parents, peer group, pastor – the standard is Christ.
What is the result of proactively following Christ’s example? It is a decision to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” (v.11). Some statistics indicate a higher rate of drug abuse among those who have completed a drug rehab program.
Education isn’t enough. We can know what not to do; we need the power not to do it. Power to practice the right comes from Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available now (v.11).
Sam Macri was a hard worker who usually blew most of his paycheck partying. He would come home, fall in bed and go to sleep looking at a crucifix hanging on the wall. He would ask God to forgive him and then live the same way the next week-end. One night he became convicted of the eventual deadly outcome toward which his life was headed. He prayed, “Lord, if you really died for me, change me; give me a will to say no.” Sam woke up a new man. After nearly 25 years, Sam is still walking in the light, influencing people in upstate New York as a pastor and master carpenter.
Christ is the Light of the world. He calls us daily to reject the darkness and walk in the light. Are you living in the Light?