“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9
Paul and Peter picked up the same theme, which is the fact that as Christian pilgrims, we no longer have the option of living in the darkness of worldliness, but instead must take up the opportunity to live in the light of God’s presence. But why is there such a stark difference, literally black and white, between the two? Why should the way we once lived be so different to the way we should now live, as pilgrims of light? After all, much of what we do – for example, working for a living, caring for a relative, doing chores around the house and garden – won’t change, whether or not we are living in God’s presence.
Paul said in his Ephesian letter that living God’s way is marked by “only what is good and right and true”. In the verse from Peter, living in the light leads to others seeing the goodness of God. So there is something about living in God’s presence, full of His light, that will be visible to those around us. I suppose we could use the analogy of looking at a light bulb. With it switched off, there is nothing to see. But when powered up, it is very visible. As we pilgrims journey through life, do our fellow travellers see a light bulb stitched on, or off?
So living in the light will impact our behaviour; the way we do our job in the workplace, the way we interact with others on-line, the way we do our chores around the home, the way we care for someone who is less able than we are. Jesus gave us a hint of what this behavioural change means. In Matthew 5:41, Jesus said “If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.” There is something counter-cultural here, something that highlights the difference between the two domains in which we live, the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light. You see, we know what we do but living in the light brings in another dimension – we then know why we do it. Paul wrote in his Colossians epistle, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT).
To live in the light is not an option for devoted Christians, but we don’t have to stress and strain to make “only what is good and right and true“ happen. Just by living close to God will produce a refining of our characters. Imagine a new Christian venturing forth on his pilgrimage, still wearing his old clothes. But amazingly, step by step, the old is replaced, thread by thread, by the new. The change is so gradual that we will probably not be aware of it, but those around us will start to see a royal priest emerge, like a butterfly from a chrysalis. Something of beauty rising from the ashes of the mundane. All due to our wonderful Heavenly Father, illuminating our lives with His presence.