Ephesians 5:8-9 “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.”
We all remember that Jesus called himself the Light of the World. Maybe we forget that he called us the light of the world, too. That is his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, where he tells us that you don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket. You put it on a stand so that it can give light to the whole house. That’s you. That’s me. Let your light shine so that people may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Here Paul calls us light, too. Light suggests knowledge. We know things other people don’t know because the light makes it possible for us to see what they can’t. What we see is not the secrets of quantum mechanics. What we see is not the next great investment opportunity. We don’t see dead people.
We see that Jesus is the Savior of the world. We see all our sins laid on him at the cross. We see forgiveness and salvation as God’s free gifts. We see the truth of everything Jesus claimed, and the promise of eternal life, confirmed by his resurrection from the dead. If we see Jesus’ power and love so clearly, then we see that we can trust his word completely.
What difference should that kind of seeing make for our lives? “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.” Notice that Paul calls goodness, righteousness, and truth the fruit of the light. He is mixing his metaphors a little bit. We don’t usually think of fruit coming from light. But he is emphasizing the connection between being children of light and behaving God’s way. I used to have three trees that produce fruit in my yard: a fig, a pomegranate, and a pecan. There were no figs on the pomegranate tree, no pomegranates on the pecan. Each kind produces its own thing. When we are children of light, we see what’s good, we see what’s right, and we see what’s true. That, then, is what we produce. These things “grow” from us.
When you bring light into a dark room, what happens to the darkness. Does it mix with the light? Do the two stand side by side? Doesn’t the light make the darkness go away? When we are children of light, we are also incompatible with the darkness. We are in the business of making it go away. Paul explains, “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” (Ephesians 5:11-13).
If we live as children of the light, then we expose the sin and evil produced by those in darkness. We see it, we confront it, we point it out. Maybe you are tempted to say, “But that’s judging! I thought we weren’t supposed to judge.” And you are right. It is judging of a sort, the kind of judging we have been called to do. As children of light we can see right and wrong, and we expose it. We identify sin, and we call it that, because we are in the business of driving the darkness away.
But we don’t do this in a loveless, prideful, self-righteous way. It is all about calling other people out of the darkness, waking them up to save them. “This is why it is said: Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 4:14). I know of no faster way to wake someone up who is sleeping in a dark room than to turn all the lights on. I know of no other way to wake up those who are sleeping in unbelief than to turn the lights on, to make their sin clear to see, and to make Christ clear to see, so that they can have the light of faith, too.
Letting our light shine is our blessed privilege as children of the light.