I was having a bad day. In the Great Scheme of Bad Days, probably not the worst ever, but still... a bad day. Work was demanding and busy, expectations weren't being met, and I was disappointed. My attitude was light-years away from where it needed to be.
And in strode Allison. Allison is a co-worker, and is one of those... cheerful people. You know. The kind who are constantly peppy... those "gratitude list" making, God's-got-our-back, building-people-up kind of people.
I wanted to complain. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to stew in my bad attitude and blame everyone for everything and just sit and pout.
And Allison? She wasn't going to sit and pout with me. No, her attitude was right. And I felt a tug in my heart. Because just the simple comparison of her outlook with mine? I was definitely in the wrong.
We've already talked about the fact that we're different, and that our lives should be a reflection of that truth...
Have you noticed that it's hard to live in a bubble in this day and age (yes, I'm ninety)?
I mean, I live at a Bible Camp, for goodness sakes, and I still encounter plenty of darkness on the daily. Seriously. If it's not right there in my own attitude, it's popping up in the things I watch, what I read, the people I meet, the drama going on in my family, and oh, the comment section on any article on Facebook. Darkness.
Sometimes it all feels like too much.
Why would God put us in these dark places?
Well, because we're supposed to show what different looks like.
We're supposed to be light in all that darkness.
Our lives need to show others what it is to have a relationship with Jesus, what that looks like exactly.
No pressure- it's small potatoes, right? You're just representing a relationship with the Almighty to everyone you meet. No biggie. (Ha!)
I think sometimes, I really want to do that well. To prove to the outside world that Christianity is all rainbows and butterflies and smiles. And then I turn into some very soft-spoken, demure, Stepford-Wife-esque thing that looks nothing like me. And I don't think that's what God wants. Authenticity, yes. Honesty, yes. Vapid me? No.
So how are we supposed to be a light in the darkness?
1. Doing what is right- justice, connecting with other real-life other people, meeting needs in our communities
2. Living in truth- being honest and authentic, not hiding our own hurts or struggles, even if it hurts our pride.
3. Making Jesus the priority- focusing on pleasing our Lord more than making other people happy, putting Him first, keeping faith central in our lives, being learning, growing disciples
A life that's in relationship with Jesus looks different than the lifestyles around us.
And that difference leads us to the next point....
Our lifestyle exposes the sin around us.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.- Ephesians 5:11-14Our lives, the way we live, helps to expose and convict other people of their own sin. Like Allison. Her attitude, her cheerfulness... it showed me just how far out of whack my own attitude really was. That tug on my heart was conviction.
Paul says that we're to expose sin- but he makes it clear that we're not supposed to be talking about it.
Do you know people who really like drama? The more tragic, the more depraved, the more horrible a situation or sin, the more interesting and dramatic it is! That's why soap operas exist, really. It's all about the drama. The trouble with that is that drama makes our own lives look sort of... boring. And lack-luster. And it makes sin look far more appealing that it is.
We're not supposed to get wrapped up in the drama- it's shameful to even speak about those dark, secret things.
Just live for Jesus. God will do the rest. Let Him do the convicting. We're just to live our lives for Him, and He'll change hearts.
But we shouldn't be surprised when our way of life is attacked, or when the way we live makes people angry.
See, if we're living a lifestyle that's in harmony with our God, people notice. They'll see it. And honestly, they won't always be very happy- because it makes them uncomfortable.
Conviction makes people crabby- we don't like to change, after all. And we really don't like being proven wrong.
Our lifestyle will draw people to Christ
So, we've been looking at Ephesians, right?
Well, I think it's worth noting, here, that the city that Paul's talking about, Ephesus?
It was a dark place. They were pretty heavy into idol worship, magic spells, calling upon demons and making curses... there was a lot of darkness there.
And it changed.
In fact, within three years of the church beginning in Ephesus, the city changed so much that businesses that once were very successful- those marketing idols, in particular- went out of business.
People were being drawn to Christ.
Our lifestyle matters. It really does. Not because living a certain way or following certain rules will help us to earn our salvation, and not because we want people to think we have it all together. No, authentic, honest, real-life relationship with Jesus changes us. And that change? It can change the world.