June 27, 2019 • Life for Leaders
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
In yesterday’s devotion we saw how the imagery of darkness and light reflects Old Testament themes, beginning with creation and continuing through the prophet Isaiah. According to the prophet, those who walk in darkness will one day see the light as the Lord himself shines upon them. This theme is picked up in Ephesians 5:8. Yet, in this verse, we are not just in darkness or light. Rather, we were darkness and are now “light in the Lord.”
This remarkable use of darkness/light imagery comes from Jesus himself. In the Gospel of John, Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah by being “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). Jesus “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Jesus identifies himself as the “light of the world.” He says, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Then, in a passage that prefigures Ephesians 5:8, Jesus says, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light” (John 12:35-36).
Similarly, in the Gospel of Matthew, those who follow Jesus, the light of the world, are not just light-followers. We are even more than “children of light.” According to Jesus, we also are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Thus Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Or course, it would be a mistake for us to see ourselves as the light of the world in exactly the same way Jesus is the light of the world. Yet, as we are in relationship with him, as we walk in his light, we become luminous reflectors of his unique divine light. We shine into the dark world through what we do and say, not in order to draw attention to ourselves, but so that those who live in darkness might “glorify [our] Father in heaven.”
Similarly, Ephesians 5:8 uses the metaphor of darkness and light fluidly. Yes, we are to live in the light and become children of light (as in John 12). But, as in Matthew 5, we are light now because of what God has done for us in Christ. Like Jesus, we have the privilege and calling of shining God’s light, God’s love and truth, into the darkness around us.
Something to Think About:
Take some moments to consider the stunning truth of Ephesians 5:8: You are light in the Lord. What does this mean to you? How does this make you feel? What does this inspire you to think or to do?
How can you live as light in the world today?
Something to Do:
Today’s suggestion is the same as yesterday’s: 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 express your “lightness.”
Lord Jesus Christ, indeed, you are the light of the world, the servant of God who enlightens all nations. I praise you today as the unique Incarnation of divine light.
Yet, if I take you at your word – and, indeed, I do – then I thank you also for making me to be the light of the world as well. Even to say this, Lord, sounds presumptuous . . . and overwhelming . . . and impossible. But I realize that I am not light in myself, but only in you. My light is real, but it is reflected light. It is light that comes from you, light that shines with your truth and love.
Help me, Lord my light, to shine with your light today. Amen.
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In the Beginning was the Word (John 1:1-18)
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.