Ephesians 5:11-20 (MSG)
Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Artificial light is such a part of our every day life that we tend to take it for granted. It's hard for us to appreciate how night or darkness was perceived in earlier times. For centuries upon centuries people illuminated their dwelling or space with a fire. It was not until William Murdock invented the gas light in 1803 that large areas could be lit efficiently and easily. Before 1803 people literally walked in darkness after the sun went down.
During Bible times, people really knew the meaning of darkness. One of the plagues of Moses was darkness. Darkness was dangerous, evil, unsettling, and something to be avoided. Paul said, "It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ." Paul was proclaiming that Jesus was the one who could transform the world from darkness and despair to one of hope, transformation, and joy. It's not artificial light that was going to make the difference but rather the perfect light of Christ.
I cannot help but think of the Viennese psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, who survived the Nazi death camps. His story of survival and hope is truly inspirational. He writes:
We had been sent out on one of our regular pre-dawn work parties. It was the dead of winter and we were put to work digging a trench. Everyone was weak, cold and many were ill. Everyone loomed as mere shapes and shadows in the darkness before dawn. I myself was struggling to find the reason for it all, for this suffering and slow dying. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of everything, I sensed a spirit piercing through the darkness and the gloom. I felt it transcend the hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious "yes!" in answer to my anguish and despair. At that moment, a light was lit in a distant farmhouse and its brightness was dazzling in the blackness of that morning. And my heart sang out, et lux in tenebris lucet"-and the light shineth in the darkness.
Where does the light of hope come from in your life? Think about it.