Father of Lights
It must have been an amazing metamorphosis to behold. The change from dark to light must have been astounding.
It would be similar to how God created this beautiful blue planet from nothing. How he took the void and make earth.
It would like watching the creepy caterpillar become a soaring butterfly and the slimy creature inside the egg become a beautiful bird soaring toward the heavens.
Except it was with humans that this happened.
It could have been anywhere the world over, any city any time but it happened to be in the city of Ephesus around the middle of the first century.
But like I said, it could have been anywhere anytime from the bursting cities of Asia to the sophisticated places of Old Europe; from the plains of Africa to the tropics of Central America all the way to those who live near the corner of Vine and Scott in St. Catharines.
The metamorphism was amazing to behold. What happened in Ephesus was nothing short of a miracle.
Ephesus was the sewer of humanity in its day. It was the place where you would escape to if you wanted not to be noticed and known; it was large enough to be anonymous and far enough from home to go unnoticed.
The transiency of the population was incredible, with people constantly coming and going as a result of the being at the crossroads of commerce and shipping.
New sailors were arriving by the hundreds, being serviced by a willing population. Hucksters were looking to make it rich quick. Crime was rampant. Bribery was the game of the day.
‘What happens in Ephesus stays in Ephesus.’ That’s how people lived their lives, with predictable consequences of ruined and addicted lives and an incredibly high throwaway rate.
In many ways it was the least likely place to see any good emerge.
Who would have thought that the caterpillar would become a butterfly, and the slimy thing inside the egg a beautiful bird?
Who would have thought that from the riffraff of the Ephesian wasteland would come an avalanche of people so radically changed, cleaned up and set free that it can only be described as second birth?
Second birth. Second chance in life. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The ugly frog becomes a charming prince.
Who would have thought such a thing was possible? That those who were broken, at their wits end and with no hope, would end up shining as the stars?
Who would have thought that the drunk would become sober, the addict would become free and the lost become found?
Second birth. Second chance in life. Born again. With hundreds, if not thousands, coming into the family of God, with one story of redemption more amazing than the next.
Who would have thought that such a thing was possible? But there it was in places like Ephesus; and here it is in places like St Catharines.
The promise in God’s Word is that the caterpillar can become a butterfly, which is why I love the language of Eph. 1:
“4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.”
From Darkness to Light
By the time Paul gets to Eph. 5 this great miracle is still very much on his mind, as he reminds those who have experienced the forgiveness of their sins when they were birthed into God’s family, how profound that metamorphism really was:
“For you were once darkness but now you are now light in the Lord.” Eph. 5:8
You could not state it in more extreme contrasts than this, since nothing is further from the darkness than light.
The contrast between the before and after cannot be more extreme. You were once darkness but now you are light.
Like night and day; from absolute darkness to absolute brightness.
Not only were they in darkness but they were darkness, and not only are they now in the light but they are light.
The contrast could not be more vivid. You have not only come into the family of God; you are the family of God.
You are not a guest, nor a visitor or friend but you are family. Not a foster child nor an adopted child but a legitimate born-again child of God with all the rights and privileges.
That is how radical second birth is. This is what happens when Jesus comes into your life and forgives your sins.
In fact, Eph. 5:8 goes on to call us “children of light” for that is what we are.
This is a radical transformation. We are not just children in the light but we are children of the light. Not only does light shine on us, but light shines from us.
The light of God in us is radiating from us. That’s radical, folks!
Anybody want this today? Anyone sick of the darkness that swirls around like a murky bog looking to swallow you up?
You can become a child of light today. Everything about you can change in a moment.
The work to accomplish that has been done. All you need to do is say yes to Jesus today and you will be born all over again into the family of God as a child of light.
Children of Light
So for those of us who are children of light Paul says for us let our light shine: “Live as children of light” (which is why we are out here on this Sunday morning).
We need to realize that this is not an impossible task. If the light of God is within us, then it’s just a matter of releasing that light into everyday life.
Letting your light shine in everyday life is what it means to mimic our Heavenly Father for he is the Father of Lights as John said: “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (I Jn. 1:5). That’s why we let our light shine.
Then our older brother – the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ – who made our spiritual birth possible by placing the light and forgiveness of God inside of us is also full of light in a way we will never be: “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12).
That’s also why we let our light shine.
So when you come into God’s family, you are coming out of a world of darkness and into a family of light.
There is light everywhere. It radiates from our Father, it radiates from Jesus, and it is reflected in the lives of many of our brothers and sisters in the family.
Light is streaming on you. You are bathed in light. So, low and behold, this light is also inside you.
A little light has come into you and already now your eyes are ablaze with the light.
This is the Family Light. You are part of the Family Light. Everything about this family is about light.
So let this light that is all around you and inside you begin to grow, as more and more deeds of darkness inside you are dispelled and pushed out.
That’s what “Live as children of light” means.
The Light of God has Dawned.
The question becomes what is that light like? What shape does it take? What does its beam look like?
That’s where it gets interesting!
This is not a light like any other lights. It’s not physical. It’s not an earthly light. Nor is it some weird metaphysical light like you see in the movies.
The beam of God’s light is actually very noticeable and comes to us in ways that we can understand it, see it, and behold it.
You say but how? How can I spot the light of God? What does it look like?
“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).” Eph. 5:8-9
God’s light is a threefold prism consisting of goodness, righteousness and truth.
That’s the light that has dawned in us. That’s the light that is to grow, stretch and expand pushing out the old life of darkness.
Goodness, righteousness and truth. What are these?
Literally, this means being full of good deeds toward others. Having the wellbeing of someone uppermost in our mind. Wishing someone well and having only good thoughts about the other.
It’s being consumed with the good of another person where you only want to bless them and wish them well.
It also caries with it the idea of generosity. A very generous spirit toward someone else always believes in the best of someone.
Not stingy, critical, harsh and unrelenting. There is no mean-spiritedness in goodness but always love and forgiveness.
It never pays back evil for evil, never retaliates but always forgives. It’s being benign and as harmless as a dove.
That, my friends, is goodness. If you are a child of the light, then that’s the first beam that shines on you and radiates from you.
The second beam is righteousness, as in right living in every day life. This is right living where you do the right thing.
There is no fraud in this beam; no ripping anybody off, no shortcuts taken, no grabbing for what is not yours nor promoting evil or that which is wrong.
This beam of light is about doing the right thing and standing up for what is right.
This beam does not whitewash the wrong nor minimize deeds of darkness nor does it rationalize bad behavior or bullying.
It calls a spade a spade and stands up for what is right. Right living all the time.
The third beam in this light is truth.
This means speaking truthfully, living honest lives. Standing up for what is truth, exposing the lies, the half-truths and deception.
Not only honest speech but also honest lives. Lives of integrity, genuineness and honesty.
No hidden agenda, no double standards, nothing up your sleeve, no hypocrisy but instead sincerity and integrity.
A three-fold beam of goodness, righteousness and truth.
When I first encountered the Father of Lights, I encountered a very generous Being who had my good in mind and was good to me all the time
A Being of righteousness who poured right living into me and made me stand up for everything that is right.
And a Being of truth who exposed all my fraud, deception and fakery that was within my heart and brought about a singularity of heart with a strong desire to truth telling and living.
That is the light that came to be within me and that’s the light that’s itching to grow, expand and radiate goodness, righteousness and truth from me in brighter and stronger ways.
This Little Light of Mine, I Am Going to Let It Shine
Of course the challenge is to let that light grow in me, to increasingly dispel all the residue darkness of what I used to be.
Now that I am a child of the light, I want that light to shine in every aspect of my life.
The darkness was so prevalent before, that it permeated every fiber of my being from my thoughts to my attitude, emotions, deeds, words and reactions.
Everything was immersed in darkness and was in fact my DNA.
Now that God’s light of goodness, righteousness and truth has come, I want it to shine everywhere – into every hidden nook, cranny and crevice; every crawl space, every corner and every closet.
Let your light shine, Lord. And the more the light shines, the more I become like the Father of lights.
So I do what Eph. 5:10,11 tells me to do:
“Find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
Of course this doesn’t mean going on a witch-hunt. This is not about exposing the darkness within others but exposing the remnants of darkness within me.
You see, though the light has dawned and it’s increasingly inside of me, I don’t want to fool myself into thinking that there is no darkness at all left and that every hint of darkness has been wiped out.
So this is exposing the deeds of darkness inside of me, which is what Paul, meant when he said, “Find out what pleases the Lord”!
It’s being on the hunt for residue of the deeds of darkness listed in Eph. 4& 5:
To do that, to leave the old life of darkness and come into the rays of goodness, righteousness and truth, we are told to do two things that are essential and that is: “Be very careful how you live,” (Eph. 5:15) and “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The first has to do with paying close attention to what pushes your buttons and sets you off. Be very careful how you live.
We all have trigger points. If something is a temptation to you, then don’t go there. If you know that you are going to be weak in the knees, then don’t even entertain it.
Use your common sense and stay away from situations and places that plunge you back into darkness.
That’s what it means to be careful how you live.
Hand in hand with this is this idea of “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
In fact, this is what it says, “Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” instead of having “unwholesome talk come out of your mouth.”
It also says, “Sing and music in your heart to the Lord’ instead of “bitterness, rage and anger” being in your heart!
Did you notice how much of this has to do with our speech?
Do you realize how our speech and words indicate what is in our heart?
Do you realize how much our mouth is the gateway of our heart?
Do you realize how much the deeds of darkness is given away in what we say, how we say it, the way we say it and to whom we say it?
I am not only referring to foul words but also angry words, spiteful words, mean words, hurting words, deceptive words and gossipy words!
All of these are the words of the yucky cocoon and the slimy thing inside the egg.
The only way to banish these remnants of darkness is by being filled with the Spirit.
The more we are filled with the Spirit of God the more our speech and eventually actions will reflect the light of God within us.
So open your hearts to the Holy Spirit so that we can live as children of light as we find out what pleases the Lord!
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.