Reading: Ephesians 5:1-21
Paul writes something that is very frightening — it is, one might say something that can be a rather ugly truth of Christianity: “But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light.” (Ephesians 5:13 WEB). Paul lists all the ugliness that is not welcome in the kingdom of heaven, tells us a little how we are supposed to live, and points out that we are children of the Light — and that we are in God’s Light.
When I was a child, I used to look at sunbeams and wonder about all that sparkled within them. There was so many specks that shown up in the light. When I asked my mom about this she told me that it was dust in the air, and I was able to see how everything the light touched showed every speck of dust. The smallest speck was made visible by the light, whether it was on furniture or floating in the air.
We are in a difficult place, as Paul equates greed with idolatry, and says that envy has no place for a share in God’s kingdom. The Light shines, and those moments of greed and envy sparkle in the light. What we are ashamed to admit becomes visible to everyone, broken relationships stand out — the Sun shows us that the air is not clean. We are not ready for heaven, and while the church is supposed to be an outpost of the kingdom of heaven — we represent heaven poorly, to say the least.
We need to change — as Paul says, we need to be woken from our death-sleep. Paul calls us to share song together. He calls us to be thankful, which is difficult for those who are greedy and envious. Paul calls us to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ, which is difficult for those of us who are proud or feel that we need to get our “fair share.” As long as we behave according to the standards of the world, against those of Heaven, the light will show much dust. It’s hard, the church has been trying, and failing to achieve perfection for a couple thousand years, but Christ shows us the standard.
We are to love others as we love ourselves, sharing joys and sorrows with our neighbors. We are to be so motivated by love that love is the standard of our speech. We are to love so that we could not even think of betraying a friend. Our love should extend so far that we love even those who do not love us. Christ calls us to forgive and to be merciful, just as forgiving and merciful as we want Christ to be with us. When this light shines, I must admit that I am not so merciful or forgiving. When it shines, I see pride, and a sense that `fairness’ is violated. I see envy, and I see a lack of mercy when I judge myself better than my neighbor who seems to have an easier life than I do.
When I see the light, I can become ashamed, yet I am a child of the Light. With Christ help, I am becoming clean.