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 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.
The 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)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.