Let us pray: Dear Savior, a clean conscience is a worry-free conscience. And a life without worry is pure joy. Today we thank You for giving us such a life through Your forgiveness for all of our sins. May we appreciate Your gift of inner peace and live in such a way as to always take full advantage of it-for Your glory and for our own joy. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF LIGHT AND LOVE!
TEXT: Ephesians 5: 8-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg know something about human nature. When Lucas directed the “Star Wars” films he always filmed the bad guys-the forces of evil-in gray, shadowy lighting. Darth Vader even wears black, doesn’t he? And the death star is cold, gray, and foreboding. When Spielberg filmed “Shindler’s List” about WWII concentration camps he went a step further. He filmed it in black and white instead of in color. Again it was to accent evil with gray, shadowy coldness reflecting the evil of such places. From horror movies to vampire flicks evil is always cloaked in darkness and shadow instead of bathed in light. Why is that? I think you know why. We seem to be born with the innate ability to equate darkness and evil, suffering, and pain, while joy, happiness, and love are equated with light. Theologically I would say that since “God is light and in Him dwells no darkness at all” goodness and light will always be synonymous in our minds.
Our lesson isn’t about what time of day we enjoy the most. It is about the lifelong battle between good and evil, God and Satan, which takes place in your lives on a minute by minute basis. So, I ask you:
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?—WELL, YOU SHOULD BE!
The majority of crime takes place at night-not just after the sun rises, not in the bright light of midday, and not as the late afternoon sun baths us in its golden glow. Why is that? Why do criminals prefer darkness? The simple answer is: they use darkness to hide their crimes and shield themselves from open scrutiny. The same is true when it comes to us and our own sins. We hate open scrutiny. We’re fearful of what others might say if they knew what we really thought or what we really do on our own time. So, we hide our sins. We hide our lust and sexual proclivities. We hide our anger and bitterness. We hide our slanderous words about others never speaking them within their earshot. We hide our greed. All such things lurk within the dark recesses of our hearts. We take them out when we’re all alone. We allow them to shape our lives behind the scenes. But in moments of stress, fear, or frustration they burst out publicly, don’t they? And if you doubt that fact, I ask you: Why does nasty language flow from our lips only when we’re upset and not all the time? Yes, strip away the facade of human “goodness” and you’ll see the evil that lurks just under the surface.
Does such behavior uplift you? Does it make you feel proud of yourself? Is it the type of thing you want to hand down to your children and have them remember you by? Of course not. So, what are you going to do about it?
“For you once were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of 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.”
The first step with any addiction is admitting its destructiveness and that you have a problem. The second step is talking about it with others, letting the light in, and thereby getting help. That’s why support groups are so popular. They are human vehicles for exposing inner darkness to the light. God is pure Light. Therefore, when we go to Him in repentance and ask for His help-His cleansing Light floods our lives and makes us clean. When God forgives each and any sin He also remembers it no more. For Him our past in locked up in Christ and made pure by the Savior’s blood. The trick is for us to hold onto that fact when those dark times come calling and to “live as children of light.” And how do you do that? By cultivating the fruits of light in your life.
St. Paul lists three basic fruits of light. “Goodness, righteousness, and truth.” Goodness is anything you’d be happy to share with your mother, your spouse, or your children. Goodness is complete lack of embarrassment. Goodness makes people happy and light-hearted. Righteousness comes from having a clean conscience. It means no worries about “What will people think if they find out that I”—and you can fill in the blank. And then there’s truth. As Jack Nicholsen once said in the movies to Tom Cruise: “You can’t handle the truth!” Yes, truth sometimes hurts. Truth means you have no room to rationalize or spin. You cannot escape the cold eye of truth, especially God’s cold eye of truth which sees everything you think or do. Yet, we all know that the truth will always come out in the end. Richard Nixon couldn’t contain it. Stalin couldn’t hold it back. So why not just live in such a way that your life is an open book. For truthfulness never gets us in trouble. O people may get mad at you for speaking the truth. But since your conscience is clear you’ll know that God’s not mad at you and in the end everything really will work out for the best.
Living in God’s light means you’ll have a happy, blessed life. Living in the darkness means you’ll battle with shame and guilt on a daily basis. For contrary to popular opinion the true joys of life are neither sinful or fattening!
I suppose our innate fear of darkness stems from our innate fear of death. Let’s face it, a coffin and a grave are both dark and cold and therefore rather scary. “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Wake up from your sins. Wake up from your predilection to hide your shame from God. Trust in Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Trust that He has saved you. That He has paid for every sin in full. Trust in His resurrection from the grave, from your grave. Yes, we should be afraid of the dark, but that fear doesn’t have to consume us. For Christ rose from the dead for you. And thus, He will shine on you eternally, too. Isn’t light wonderful? Amen