By Joshua Franks
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bruceton
Every four years we come to one of my favorite sporting spectacles. I love the Winter Olympics. I’m not really sure why, but for two weeks in February sports like figure skating and alpine skiing suddenly matter in my life. But the Olympics have become a ritual in my home. Every cycle we gather around the TV at the beginning of the games and watch the opening ceremony, a ceremony that culminates with the lighting of the Olympic Flame.
As we watched this year, my mind was drawn to Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 5. He said that we are the light of the world and we are to let our light shine so that others would see and give glory to our Father. And as I watched I wondered how many of our churches were actually accomplishing that mission in their community or how many had let their light become compromised by the things of this world.
As our focal passage opens Paul is exhorting the church to be on guard against such things. In Ephesians 5:8 he reminds believers of our state prior to conversion. We weren’t simply in darkness. We were darkness. We weren’t a part of it. We were completely consumed by it.
To understand that, it’s important to understand what darkness represents. In Scripture, darkness refers to ignorance and evil. Therefore, we conclude that every unregenerate soul is ignorant of the truth and evil to the core. And that’s Paul’s point here. He’s reminding the believers at Ephesus who they were before Christ. Their lives were completely dominated by the power of Satan (Ephersians 6:12), and they continually did his work. Jesus made this idea plain in John 8:44 when he said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”
Thus, Paul is admonishing the believers in Ephesus to not only realize who they were but to also understand who they are. We were darkness. Now, We are light. And just as darkness is a symbol for two different components, light is as well. Intellectually, light refers to truth and morally it refers to holiness. Thus, living in light means receiving the truth and living a holy life. Therefore, the contrast between dark and light is not just what we know. It’s what we are. If you’re the child of Satan, you will do the deeds of Satan; if you’re the child of God, you’ll do the deeds of God.
And then Paul goes on to tell us what those deeds are. Goodness, righteousness, and truth should characterize the life of a believer (Ephesians 5:9). And I believe that those three things are the perfect picture of how we should relate to three different things.
Goodness deals with how we should relate to other people. Righteousness deals with how we relate to God. And truth deals with how we relate to ourselves. All this is contrasted against the darkness. In darkness you deal with people, God, and yourself deceitfully. It’s all a sham. It’s all evil. But in the light, we have integrity in our relationships. And when we have integrity in all of our relationships, then we can be the light in an otherwise dark and dreary world. So this year, as you see the Olympic Flame, do the work of the Father. Be the light in your world.