“She’s glowing.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? I usually hear it when someone is talking about a pregnant woman. I’m not sure what that really means, but I’m sure its a good thing. Sometimes I think its a nice way of saying she’s super pregnant! All joshing aside, I remember when my wife was pregnant, and she was glowing. Not because she was super pregnant, but because of the literal life happening inside of her. For nine months my wife carried our beautiful daughter. That’s nine months of anticipation, excitement, fear, joy, and future planning going on in my wife’s head, and since my wife would share her thoughts with me, I would glow as well. People all around us saw us both glowing, because they could see life taking place in our lives. The truth is, we are attracted to people who glow. We like to be around them because they inspire life inside of us, and move us to walk through life differently. I believe we all have the ability to glow and inspire life, and the Apostle Paul shares with us how we can do it in Ephesians 5:1-21.
In 5:1-2, Paul connects our makeover to the way we glow by calling us to be imitators of Christ. The way we imitate Christ is by walking in the same love he has for us. Christ showed his love for us by offering himself as a sacrifice so we can have a relationship with God. Paul compares Christ’s sacrifice as a “fragrant offering.” I think this is an interesting image Paul uses for Christ’s offering, because it makes us think about a type of scent we would smell. Depending on the scent, it can either attract or repeal someone. Now think about our bodies and all the scents it produces, and to be honest, I don’t think our bodies produce a single pleasing one. This is why we spend so much time and money on products that make us smell good. Paul is living in a world where people don’t keep up with daily hygiene, so you can imagine, there were some funky smells going on. For a person to walk into a room, and smell a fragrance or incense, was a welcomed scent in a world of constant body odor. Now lets be honest, there is nothing pleasing about the cross. Everything about it screams torture and death, but Paul says God saw it as a fragrant offering. Paul isn’t trying to say God is demented and enjoys people being brutally murdered; but instead, Paul is saying Jesus lived such a pleasing life to his Father that his sacrifice covered up the nasty stench, we produce through our sin, which repeals God from being around us. We need to come to the conclusion the way we live our lives can produce a physical, emotional, and spiritual scent which can either attract or repeal others. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, plus our willingness to imitate the same love he has for us towards others, is what keeps God and people around us.
Everything Paul writes about in verses 3-21 is comparing how we can be “children of light,” and not “children of darkness,” found in verses 8-9. Now I can go into great detail on how we can be “children of light,” which makes us glow to others, but I’m not. The reason is because I believe we already know how to be “children of light.” And if you’re not sure, its living a life of purity plus using our words to build others up, not tear them down. It takes our lives and our words working together to make us glow for Christ. Our problem is we don’t like the idea of stopping our association with darkness. We like having the best of both worlds because we like being able to pick and choose our piety’s and sins. This gives us a false sense of security because it makes us believe we’re committed enough, but not too committed that we can’t relate to the world around us. We need to get it through our heads being relevant in someones life doesn’t happen through how we participate in social media, entertainment, and music, but through having an honest relationship with them. If we want to experience the fullness of Christ, then we have to be willing to give up the darkness.
So how do we give it up? Instead of hiding our darkness, we need to do what the Apostle Paul says and expose it (v.11). Now I know that’s easier said than done, because we know what can happen when we begin to be honest. So I think we need to be realistic about what we should expect when we expose our darkness. First off, we should expect some sort of backlash or consequence. We need to own up to the fact we have not been honest with the relationships in our lives. We have been hurting others and they are going to be upset about it, so to think nothing is going to happen is only setting ourselves up for more heartache. I’v learned there’s always one person, who will crucify you, but for every one person who crucifies, there’s always 10 more, who will love and support you. Second, healing from darkness takes time. We live in a world of instant everything, and think that’s how it should be with our relationships. Its going to take time for other to trust us again, and we need to be willing to take the proper steps to show we are worth trusting. Finally, we will be in the light. When darkness is gone, all there is left to be seen is the light of Jesus living in us. Freedom from darkness is obtainable if we’re willing to step into the light.
In the end, the reason why church matters is because it is a glowing light in a dark world. When a body of believers come together and lets the love of Christ work through them, the church glows like a pregnant woman. People can’t help being around it because they know how much joy is being brought to it by the life inside of it. Life creates light, and it attracts those who want to get out of darkness. This is why I don’t have an issues with church buildings. Christians are bad about ragging on the church building, but we need to at least recognize its a physical beacon of hope for those who want to get out of darkness. And the sad part is, sometimes the building gives more hope to people in darkness, than the people inside of it. So brothers and sisters, don’t let the building be the only reason why someone comes to church, but instead, be the light Christ called all of us to be. Because where there is light, you will also find life.