Living in the Light
Below are my notes for Pt. 3 of the Shine teaching series, “Living in the Light.” (c) 2012, Terry Broadwater. For personal use. For all other uses please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the things I love about living in Colorado is there are over 300 days of sunshine every year, compared to Seattle which averages about 70! Did you know there are great benefits to living in the sunlight? When our eyes detect darkness, a small gland in the brain called the pineal releases melatonin, which establishes sleep cycles. When we detect light, melatonin production subsides and its cheerier hormonal sibling, serotonin, takes over to promote wakefulness and help elevate mood. (The word serotonin is rooted in serum + tonic, so it’s like an elixir for happiness. Melatonin is the mel or “black” tonic, for darkness.)
Eph. 5:1-14 (Read) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper (melatonin!!), rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light (serotonin!!).
There is this period in history called, The Dark Ages, 5th to 15th century, following the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is called the Dark Ages primarily because it lacked any significant scientific break throughs, relatively no innovation, filled with war, disease, and plagues, and institutionalized religion!
The Dark Ages ended because of the Renaissance, the advent of the printing press and a cultural movement of the arts and sciences. But the Dark Ages ended too because of those like Martin Luther and his 95 thesis, that questioned that salvation is not merely by faith alone but must be accompanied by corresponding works (practical application), nailed to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany on Oct. 31, 1517 that inspired the Protestant Reformation!
Living in the Light is the practical application of the revelation of Jesus Christ! This is the only way we can truly SHINE for Christ. Paul calls us to live in the light… Living in the Light- it “wakes” you up to life! Four keys to Living in the Light…
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1 NLT)
Here are some of my imitations: Pinky, Grover, and Craig! But imitating God is much more than pretending to sound like his voice or proclaim his values- too many people do that. Imitating God is about putting his voice and values into practice!
The best way to understand this is not to say, “I’m practicing what I preach” but to live your life in such a way that you are constantly putting into practice what Jesus preached! That’s how you live in the light and imitate God.
Practicing the values that Jesus espoused means you are enlightened to the best and right and only way to really live and you are bringing that revelation- Light, to others!
Ask: “Do I imitate God by practicing godly values? Example: Treating others the way you want to be treated. Loving others as yourself. Not being judgmental. Etc.
DON’T PARTICIPATE IN DARKNESS
“Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”. (Ephesians 5: 7, 8 NLT)
Notice that Paul is NOT telling us to steer clear, avoid, or have nothing to do with people who are practicing sin and may be full of darkness; nor is he getting all legalistic about it. This would contradict the very ministry of Jesus- his direct association with “sinners” that the religious constantly condemned him for, as well as Paul’s own ministry to the Gentiles. Further, it would go against the grain of the Great Commission, and Jesus’ call for us to “be light!”
My church growing up made a point of noting that bowling, playing baseball, mixed bathing??, missing church for any reason whatsoever, skirts above the knee, not wearing a tie, playing card games, WERE ALL WAYS YOU PARTICIPATED IN DARKNESS!! Meanwhile, gluttony, gossip, prejudices, etc. all seemed to be ok to participate in…
Paul is telling us not to “participate in the things these people do.” Well, the first question is: Who are “these people?” And the second question is: What “things” were they doing?
We must understand what it means to “practice” or “participate” in “things” that are beneficial rather than bad for us! Beneficial means that good will come from this. Bad means, well, bad will come from this! Paul makes this case in Romans where he speaks about meat being offered to idols- he personally didn’t have a problem with it, while others did. This is the juxtaposition to “imitating God”- practicing biblical values means you don’t participate in sinful behavior. Yes, you bring light to those in darkness; but darkness itself is the condition of sinful practices either because people don’t have the revelation of Jesus (light) or they have chosen to ignore the light.
This also means, I don’t casually or carelessly hang out, around, or in the dark places, suggesting I’m “being missional.” Living in the light to shine the light of Jesus is all about having and bringing revelation! It’s being prudent so you can be productive!
DETERMINE WHAT PLEASES GOD
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”. (Ephesians 5: 10 NLT)
Say, “CAREFULLY!” “DETERMINE!” “WHAT PLEASES GOD!” How carefully do we do that? Living in the light also means, and this is especially important considering the last point, I’m careful to determine what pleases God. Here’s a couple things I know pleases God:
Faith (Heb. 11:6- “without faith it’s impossible to please God”). Sharing the Gospel (Rom. “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” ). Fulfilling God’s purpose (1 Sam. “to obey is better than sacrifice”).
Now, if I’m smart, if I truly have revelation, I’ve been enlightened, I want to carefully determine and do what pleases… my wife! And hopefully she feels the same… I’ve really sucked at that at times! Why? Because I’ve determined not so carefully and done what pleases Terry! Can I make a confession? It’s challenging for me to please others because I seem to always want to please me! Am I the only one with that issue??
But all jokes aside, why is it important for me to please my wife, and her me? Because she and I want peace, personal satisfaction, and passion in our home! I actually believe that it pleases God when a husband and wife can please each other, when children please their parents, as it relates to biblical values being put into practice.
To live a children of the light is to KNOW what God wants and to put it into practice! It’s asking: “What will bring God pleasure?” or “Will this bring God pleasure?” Determine what pleases God when it comes to your life, every aspect of it!
Eph. 5:11-14 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Darkness is, in many ways, a cover up. People constantly cover up all kinds of things because they know they’re wrong. How about the recent Secret Service situation? Or Watergate? Or the trial of John Edwards right now? Or …
What ultimately happens? How do we find out there has been a cover up? THERE’S REVELATION and it becomes EXPOSED!
As a kid I’d sweep the dirt under the rug to cover it up… guess what happened? It’s the first place my mom would look!!
Remember how Adam and Eve tried to cover up their nakedness? They were “exposed” literally! And all of us in this room, right now, felt a certain awkwardness with that. Why? Because sinfulness and our fallen world has twisted and perverted and made dark all that is right, wholesome, and of the Light! True?
When Paul says expose evil he’s not talking about running around as the Holy Ghost Police or carrying picket signs with “God Hates Gays!” on them or any other such un-Jesus-like behavior! NO, Paul is telling us that the Light of Jesus, lived out through how you practice his values, will always expose the darkness, but when it does, now what?
Well, when you’ve been found out, when what you’ve been covering up comes to light, what do you want to find? How about this- GRACE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS, HOPE and HELP for overcoming the darkness you’ve even chosen to be in.
It’s interesting that Paul is writing to the same church, Ephesus, that Jesus later in John’s Revelation commends for exposing evil, but condemns for losing their first love! Think about that… He’s saying that “Living in the Light is more than just exposing evil, it’s about loving me!” Which translates into light not only exposing the evil that wants to consumes people’s lives, but more importantly, bringing Jesus into those situations- his love, grace, mercy, hope, help, forgiveness!
Tony Campolo always said, “Love people but hate their sin!” But someone else recently said it better in my opinion: “Love people and hate your own sin!” That’s what puts it all into perspective for us! It’s being reminded that all of us have a “dark side” an old man, the flesh, the evil in us passed on through our fallen DNA, but the LIGHT SHINES and brings the revelation of of what God values- “That God so loved the world that he gave his only son… and while we were still sinners Christ died for us… that God not only “preaches” the Cross, Jesus put it into practice with his own blood!
Shine! Living in the Light! Imitate God by practicing right values. Don’t participate in darkness. Determine what pleases God. Expose evil.