“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible…”
Ephesians 5:11-14 NLT
In the work place I made no secret of my faith. There was a cost involved of course – I was no longer included in the social set, you know, the “cool” group, that got involved in chats around the coffee machine or the photocopier, chewing over “the worthless deeds of evil and darkness”. Sometimes there was an awkward silence in a meeting room when I arrived. The occasional apology when an expletive was inadvertently uttered. I often wondered that my work colleagues somehow felt that their behaviour was incompatible with my faith in Jesus. It was of course – they obviously knew what the “light” was. And that they behaved in a way that was different. But I sometimes had an opportunity to include myself in the office chatter – I can remember a discussion on life insurance where costs and benefits were being discussed. My contribution was to remind them that worldly life insurance, was costly, and only paid out in death, but eternal life insurance was far more important, it was free, and paid out with life. There were a few embarrassed coughs followed by a change of subject. Light exposing “worthless deeds” perhaps? I suppose I was grateful to be excluded from the sordid discussions about things of a dark world that I once knew, but had been redeemed from, by the blood of Jesus.
But how should a 21st Century pilgrim allow God’s light to shine out into the dark and evil world around us? Over the past centuries, there have always been a small number of men and women who have cut themselves off from society, to avoid contaminating themselves by contact with the darkness. They live in monasteries and nunneries, spending their time in prayer and working in their gardens, in a life devoted to God. But is that the answer to God’s call to holiness? In 1 Peter 1:15-16, we read, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”“. A monasterial lifestyle may be the way for some, but for me there is that difficult balancing act between being in the world but not of the world. In Jesus’s amazing prayer to His Father in Heaven, in John 17, He said, “I have given them Your Word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” We pilgrims have a mission in life, folks. In this dark world, not apart from it. Our service to God includes telling those who live on the dark side about the hope we have for a future with God in Heaven. It includes being a light shining in the darkness around us (Matthew 5). We are salt savouring a tasteless society. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Abraham pleaded with God not to destroy these wicked towns if any righteous people lived there, is perhaps a warning that God’s patience with a dark society will one day expire. Perhaps our presence in the darkness of our age is turning way His wrath.
But on a more positive note, we know the love of God. We know what He has done for us. We know that one day we will be in His presence. And as we trudge through life we share our messages of hope, our testimonies of what God has done for us, with those around us. Sharing in the dark places where we find ourselves, our schools, workplaces, communities and families. But all the time being conscious of our call to holiness and the love of our wonderful God.