Finding Your Place in God’s Story of Darkness and Light, Part 1

June 26, 2019 • Life for Leaders

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:8


Ephesians 5:8 proclaims: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” By using the imagery of darkness and light in this way, Ephesians weaves us into the biblical story, a story in which the motif of darkness and light features prominently.

dark staircase with a light illuminating the next few steps upThe imagery of darkness and light takes us back to the very first day of creation in the opening verses of Genesis. There, God speaks light into existence, seeing that the light is good and separating the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:3-5). In Exodus, one of the plagues covers Egypt with darkness as a sign of God’s judgment (Exodus 10:21-22). Later in Exodus, God leads his people by a pillar of fire at night, “to give them light” for safe travel (Exodus 13:21). The prophet Isaiah describes the lostness of humanity that has turned away from God, and therefore sees “only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness” (Isaiah 8:22).

But Isaiah also offers hope through a glimpse of the future: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in a land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Someday, the Lord will “turn the darkness into light” before his people (Isaiah 42:16). In that day, God will send his servant as a “light for the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6). Even though “darkness covers the earth,” the nations will come to the light of God’s people “and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:2-3). In the future, “the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end” (Isaiah 60:19-20).

Ephesians 5:8 echoes the language of Isaiah, and in so doing it makes you and I part of the biblical story. Yet, from the perspective of Ephesians, those who live without God are not just in darkness. They are darkness. And those who live with God are not just in the light. They are light. In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion we’ll look more closely at this striking development in the use of light/dark imagery. For now, though, I’d like to invite you to reflect on how your own life is part of God’s story, the grand story of Scripture. You might find the following questions to be helpful.

Something to Think About:

To what extent do you see your life as part of God’s story?

When you think of great biblical themes and motifs, like darkness and light, do these help you to make sense of your life?

If you were to think of yourself as a character in God’s story of darkness and light, how might you live differently today?

Something to Do:

Taking seriously your identity as a child of light, do something today that reflects the light of God. It might be something as simple as showing kindness to someone in your workplace who is regularly ignored or mistreated. Or it could be offering care to a neighbor in distress. Or . . . . Allow the Lord to guide you to do something to express your “lightness.”


Gracious God, thank you for telling your grand story of Scripture, beginning with creation, with light and darkness. Thank you for choosing me as a character in your story, for including my own story as one small chapter in your grand narrative. Help me, Lord, to see myself this way, to see my life as part of your life, to see my story as a small but essential part of your story. May I live out my part today, reflecting your light into the world through what I do and say. To you be all the glory! Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
God’s Creation Takes Work (Genesis 1:3-25; 2:7)



One thought on “Finding Your Place in God’s Story of Darkness and Light, Part 1

  1. Jonathan Russell says:

    Thanks, Mark. One thing I have thought of over the years is that darkness is not the equivalent but opposite of light. Essentially paralleling the thought that Satan is not the equivalent but polar opposite of Jesus. Light has a source. Darkness is simply the absence of light and in that sense, it does not have a source. While you can fill a room with light, the only way you fill a room with darkness is by removing all the light. Perhaps this takes a view of Satan that is too small and less personified, however.

    Anyway, if i am to carry this thinking further, those walking in darkness, just need some light. As Christians we don’t generate our own lights, but rather we are like mirrors, reflecting the light of God, from its source. Just like a mirror can aid a shepherd in reflecting the sun’s light into a crevice or cave, this seems to be part of our calling– to reflect God’s love into the darkness of the world in which we live.

    Not sure if this correlates with your thinking in today’s devotional, but open to hearing from you, if my thinking is on shaky theological grounds.

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