July 25, 2019 • Life for Leaders
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. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
As you may know, today I’m living in Southern California, working at the De Pree Center of Fuller Seminary. But before living here I spent seven wonderful years in Texas, working for Laity Lodge and other ministries of the H. E. Butt Foundation.
Folks in Texas, especially those who have grown up in the state, use “y’all” where Californians would say “you” or perhaps “you guys.” The plural “y’all” can even be strengthened by adding “all,” as in “All y’all.”
Today, I want to borrow some language from my Texas friends to make a point about Ephesians 5:8-14. It is terribly easy for us to read this passage as if it addresses only singular individuals. To be sure, the truth of this text speaks to each one of us personally, but the grammar and theology of Ephesians point to a corporate implication. So in order to make the meaning of our passage abundantly clear, I would propose the following paraphrase of the text. This “Texas version” will also reflect what we have learned in our close study of the text and its meaning:
For all y’all were once darkness, but now all y’all are light in the Lord. All y’all live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and all ya’ll find out what pleases the Lord. All y’all, don’t become partners with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather all y’all expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on y’all.”
This version underscores a crucial point. We are not alone as light in the world. It is not our singular calling to shine the light of Christ into the darkness. You are not so much a solitary child of the light as you are one in the family of the children of light. We will only be able to fulfill our calling as light if we do so together, in shared community and ministry. When we shine as children of light together, we will sustain our glow. We will shine more brightly and practitioners of darkness will see the light of Christ among us and be drawn to this light.
Something to Think About:
How are you connected to your fellow children of light?
In what ways are you shining together in the world?
How might you grow in your community with your fellow Christians, so that you might shine more brightly and more consistently?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or some Christian friends about how you might encourage each other or even team up together to shine as light in the world.
Thank you, gracious God, for joining me to your people, for adopting me as one of your children of light. Help me, I pray, to live in conscious, committed, and growing community with my enlightened siblings. Help us to shine together in the dark world around us. May the ways we live with each other bear witness to the gospel. May our shared deeds of service and acts of kindness in the world reflect your light. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Missional Community (Acts 1:6)
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.