Matthew 5:14 is where Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world.” We say, “amen” and continue on or rededicate ourselves to the task of evangelizing our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the far reaches of our world. Rightly so; we should! But fulfilling the Great Commission is a broad task that is spread among many. We should all pray about it and consider it, but all are not specifically called to go to Judea, Samaria or the farthest corners of the world. We often personalize the commission and refer to “our” Jerusalem where we live. That is also helpful and challenging. I would like to propose that we take another step back and recognize that the great commission includes our families! Our Jerusalem is right where we are, whether that is at the office, at church, out shopping, or in our homes. It is interesting to me that the intimate knowledge of how Dads and Moms and children really live when the front door is closed has profound impact on what those within that home come to believe as true and thus live. Any difference in our teaching and actions when we are on one side of our front door and the other is viewed by others as blatant hypocrisy. Dewey Bertolini, in Escaping the Subtle Sellout, says that “we have a credibility crisis” in our communities. I go further (and I think Bertolini would agree), we have a credibility crisis in our families. As I evaluate my own influence with my children, I get a frog in my throat. Am I a light, a purifying influence, a dispeller of darkness in my own home? Am I living in a way that provokes my children to love God with all their hearts? Am I seeing my children “buy into” the True and the Living God? How about my wife? Is she being purified and enlightened by me? Before you or I can answer these questions, we need to know what God means when He calls us to be light.
Paul, in Ephesians 5:8-9 writes of how, or what we do that makes us “shine” as light in the darkness of our world. He finishes verse eight with, “walk as children of light.” Verse nine defines that walk as a life that is lived as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in that person. That result is a life lived with all goodness, righteousness, and truth. That is the life that shines! What does all goodness, righteousness, and truth mean in the here and now?
Paul’s statement in verses eight and nine is a synopsis statement within his larger explanation (chapters 4-6) of how we are to flesh-out the doctrines taught in the first three chapters of Ephesians. In chapter 4:18-20 Paul refers again to the children of light (those who have been enlightened by Christ to a new way to thinking and living). He then proceeds to tell us about this new way of life (the new man) that is characterized by forgiving, giving, edifying, patience, calmness, honesty, kindness, and tenderheartedness. This is what being light is all about. Chapter 4:32 and 5:1-2 give the definitive example: Christ. We are to love others (even our spouse, even our children, even our parents) like Christ loves them. Period.
Light is explained in Ephesians 4-5 as originating from Christ (5:14), so for us to be light, we must get it from being with Christ (His Word and His Spirit). Light is also the antithesis of darkness. Being light then is being different from those who don’t know Christ. Different in the way we handle life. Different in the way we think. As a father maintains self-control (see temperance in Galatians 5:23, 2 Peter 1:6) when a child spills the milk, or breaks new digital camera. . ., he is a light burning brightly! As a mom answers with a kind voice (see Ephesians 4:29,31-32) when a child (or husband) has “pushed her buttons,” she has dispelled the darkness in her home. As a dad patiently helps his child understand how and why she should be kind to those who don’t give her her way, he becomes the purifying influence that she needs him to be. That dad is light. The mom that answers the phone call from the prodigal daughter can be light by her kind (which may require firmness), tenderhearted, forgiving (Ephesians 4:31-32) spirit. That is being real light, which is a result of walking near THE LIGHT. Being the light is what our families need. If there is darkness there, the need is more light! More light is also what our community needs, and our world. Be that light!
Transfer that thought over to our families. Am I, and are you shining as a bright light within our families?
I can only provoke my children to love God as much as I do!