…[F]or at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:8-11)
Jesus Christ was the light of the world while He walked the earth. (John 1:4-9, 8:12) The ascended Jesus Christ calls His disciples out of darkness and into His marvelous light so we can be the light of the world. (Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 2:9; Galatians 2:20; Matthew 5:14) We are the children of light because Christ lives in us, the hope of glory. (1 Thessalonians 5:5; Colossians 1:17)
This contrast of light vs. darkness is the contrast of good vs. evil, truth vs. lie, and sin vs. righteousness. (Isaiah 5:20; Psalm 119:105, 130) To be the light of the world, we must do more than just claim Christian faith. We must live our daily lives as children of light who no longer take part in works of darkness.
I was recently invited to speak at a Central Baptist Church men’s conference titled, “Living by Faith in Challenging Times”. As the first speaker, I was assigned to describe the challenges we face: the increasing darkness in our nation and world. My research revealed more than I have room to discuss here, but I offer the following examples.
There are about thirty active wars in the world today. Putin invaded Ukraine and has his Russian troops target civilians and kidnap children while he restrains Ukraine’s allies with the threat of nuclear weapons. Hamas invaded Israel, targeting civilians and beheading children, and will now seek to portray Israel as the “bad guy” when the Palestinian civilians Hamas hides behind are harmed. The Mexican drug war, just across our porous border, has killed 350,000 people in the last fifteen years. Our news media are too preoccupied with ratings to even report on the war tragedies in Ethiopia, Yemen, Somali, Sudan, Myanmar, the Congo, and elsewhere.
Less than a generation ago, 2-3% of Americans identified themselves as homosexual. Today, in the wake of our cultural decision to endorse homosexual marriage, 16% of Americans in the age group 10-25 identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The average American teen spends seven hours per day in screen time for entertainment and social interaction. Adults do not do much better.
The percentage of Americans who identify as Christian has dropped from 78% to 63% in the last fifteen years. Only 37% of Americans say they have confidence in the Church. In today’s age group 18-29, 23% believe in an absolute standard of right and wrong. In that same age group, only 51% are certain there is a God.
Our polarized political system is so broken we have most people in one party showing no concern for a leader’s competence while most people in the other party show no concern for a leader’s character.
Amidst this increasing darkness, fortunately, I have been blessed to see groups of Christians arise and shine as children of light. (Isaiah 60:1) At the men’s conference I mentioned were many men, both black and white, who are “daring to be different” as bible-believing, Christ-following men in their homes, workplaces, and wherever the Lord leads them.
A week before that conference, I was with members of the Tennessee Prayer Coalition at an event on Nashville’s legislative plaza titled “Worship City Repent”, where a loving, faithful group of men and women prayed and worshipped around the clock for three days in intercession for our state, nation, and world.
And during the weekend following that men’s conference, I was a spiritual director on a Walk to Emmaus where over fifty men gave three days to the Lord, without cell phones and watches, while over one hundred other men and women prayed for them. Every man was touched in a transforming way by Jesus, and they all declared their commitment to proactively serve and represent the Lord in their homes and in the world. Children of light!
We live in a time when many people love darkness rather than the light, and many call the darkness light and the light darkness. (John 3:19; Isaiah 5:20) We cannot shine as children of light while yoked to people, socially or politically, whose behavior or character represents darkness. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 John 2:9-11)
However, we can be children of radiant light when, as our Ephesians 5 passage requires, we are God-pleasers rather than people-pleasers because God is light and the Father of lights, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (Galatians 1:10; Romans 12:2; 1 John 1:5; James 1:17)
These are the people that darkness will never overcome. (John 1:3; Isaiah 60:1-3)
God bless you, and God bless our community.