“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV).
When I read this verse quickly I tend to mentally insert or change some words. I want it to say, “For at one time you were in darkness,” and I want it to say “but now you are in the light of the Lord.” Well, it’s not that I want it to say that, so much as my mind expects those words.
Has that ever happened to you? You are so used to hearing certain groups of words, that when they change slightly your brain tricks you into hearing the original and most frequently used group of words. The principle is used in all kinds of brain teasers. If asked a series of simple Bible questions in rapid sequence, followed by the question, “How many of each animal did Moses bring in the ark?”, it is surprising how many people respond with “two” instead of noticing that it was Noah, and not Moses, who brought the animals on the ark! But I digress.
Our verse doesn’t say that we were in darkness, but rather that we were darkness. I have no trouble understanding what it means to be in darkness. In a cave a couple hundred feet below the surface, I experienced complete darkness. In pitch darkness, one gets disoriented, especially if there are no walls or railings to maintain our bearings; one might even lose their sense of balance. In prolonged pitch darkness, fear often sets in. These statements are true whether we are referring to physical or spiritual darkness.
But what does it mean to be darkness? As I pondered this question I drew a comparison with loneliness. One can be alone and feel lonely or be in the midst of a crowd and be lonely. Being alone and lonely is like being in darkness, it is disorienting and a little scary. Being with others and being lonely, on the other hand, is like being darkness; you are similarly disoriented, but your loneliness also affects those around you. You are contagious!
But thanks be to God, now we are light!
Just as darkness can be contagious, light can be as well. When God tells us that we are light, we must ask, “Why am I light?” Jesus made it pretty clear, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14 ESV). We could have been surrounded by light, filled with light, even saturated in light, but we were made to be light so that we could help the lost of this world find their way to Jesus. We are a beacon in the night to keep them from crashing on the rocks.
The last part of Ephesians 5:8 entreats us to “walk as children of light.” As children of light, we will attract attention; but we have to decide the kind of attention we receive. Colossians 1:10 says, “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work” (ESV).
May we live our lives in such a way that the world is pointed to Jesus by our light, and not pushed away from Him.
Blessings on your weekend!