by J. Alan Sharrer
Key Verse: “You used to be like people living in the dark, now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light and make your light shine.” (Ephesians 5:8-9a)
One feature of the smartphone that has come in handy more times than I can count (besides actually using it to, you know, call someone) has been the flashlight function. It seems pretty basic, but when a situation has arisen where I’ve needed a a boost of light, the app has never failed to disappoint me. Sometimes I’ve needed to make sure the path our family is walking on is clear of any upcoming obstructions. Sometimes I’ve had to retrieve a lost pacifier in a pitch black room without waking up sleeping children. Sometimes I’ve successfully navigated through the house at 3 AM without stubbing my toe on a building block or door jamb only because I picked up my phone and turned on the flashlight app.
Light is a powerful thing–so powerful, in fact, that it can sweep away darkness and direct people in the way they need to go (think of a lighthouse). Jesus told a large gathering, to this effect, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
It’s very easy to look around us as we shine the light of Jesus and notice the never-ending parade of lewdness, depravity, and sin that threatens to consume everything it gets near.
But we need to stop and consider something else with our flashlight first.
In today’s reading, Paul shares a sobering reminder that we all were once in the darkness, kept away from God due to our sin. But Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection changed all that. As a result, our faith in him transformed us into “people of the light” (v. 8). In order to shine, however, we’re encouraged to be five things in the passage–good, honest, truthful, non-partakers of evil deeds, and exposers of the darkness (vs. 9-11). To do these, we need to consider our own hearts. We might be honest in the big things of life, but what about the small things, like being undercharged at a restaurant? When a friend asks us how we’re doing and we respond with “Good,” are we telling the honest truth? Are we one way in public life yet harbor a secret life that, if found out, would surprise, shock, and shame those close to us?
Take some time today to consider these questions and ask God to take his flashlight and shine it on you. By confessing and asking forgiveness, those areas of darkness can be eliminated so you can be better used for his glory.
When the flashlight shines on us, may we be found full of Jesus’ light and love, ready to reflect it for the world to see.
J. Alan Sharrer is a Senior Writer at HollywoodJesus.com.