FEEDING THE DARK SIDE
Lord, thank You for turning the light on.
Read EPHESIANS 5:8–20
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘…if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’ (Ps 139:9b-10).
God’s first creative act separated light from darkness. Light and dark have become Scripture’s most common and powerful image of good and evil (Isa 5:20), of God’s way and the world’s way, of Jesus Himself and the forces opposing Him. When the metaphor speaks of us, we can either be in the dark (Isa 9:2), or, as in today’s reading, we can actually be dark (8). There is a story of a grandfather teaching his grandson. ‘You have two dogs inside you’, says the grandfather, ‘a dark one and a light one and they are always fighting’. ‘Which one will win?’ asks the boy. ‘The one you feed’, says the grandfather.
These readings are about feeding those inner dogs, about the forces that compete for our loyalty and about which ones we choose to foster. We feed the inner light by focusing our minds on ‘goodness, righteousness, and truth’ (9) and all the other good and clean things Paul lists elsewhere: whatever is true, pure, kind, gentle, and admirable, ‘think on these things’ (Phil 4:8, KJV). We feed the dark side by allowing our minds to stay fixed on wrong things – possessions, self-indulgence, excesses, sexual impurity, and things Paul dares not even mention (12). Temptation is everywhere, pervading our decadent society. Temptation is not wrong, but to indulge it is a choice. We can watch immoral movies, we can fantasize about self-image. We can click on the link when pornography inserts itself unbidden on our computer screens. Thus we feed the dark dog and therein lies danger. We can, writes James, be lured away from the light by our own uncontrolled desires. ‘… after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death’ (James 1:15).
‘Praise to the Lord, who when darkness of sin is abounding, / who, when the godless do triumph, our best hopes confounding, / sheds forth his light, / scatters the horrors of night,/ saints with his mercy surrounding’ (Joachim Neander, 1650–80, ‘Praise to the Lord’).
Lord, we want to find out what Your will is for our lives and to practice only what pleases You.
Book and Author Intros
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.