And there is no darkness quite like that of a winter night.
I am driving home from a gig, with a good sixty miles of frozen highway still to go. I have been watching the dashboard temperature dip under 0. Wind gusts angrily shove the car from time to time. This is alone.
Then the phone rings through the console. It is my son, just calling to chat. His voice, clear through my Bluetooth, brings comfort to my spirit like a warm blanket. We talk for much of my remaining drive. It is a protective bubble against the isolating cold and dark.
During my devotions the next morning, I read Paul’s words in Ephesians 5.
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (vs. 8-10)
It’s odd how quickly I internalize and individualize words like “goodness, righteousness and truth.” Perhaps it’s because all sanctification begins with the Spirit working in each of our hearts to bring us into alignment with God’s will. But it doesn’t stop there.
For the latter half of the book of Ephesians is all about the community of faith. It’s about who God’s people are meant to be. Together. Paul makes a striking contrast between the isolation and self-indulgence of our darkened former life and our new life in the light of the knowledge of Christ. Lust and malice and ignorance always quarantine a person in the tiny closet of self. And when that closet door is closed, it is dark indeed.
But our new lives produce fruit. Fruit of the light. Fruit that benefits all. Goodness (“the attractiveness of a beautiful character”—according to the Tyndale commentary), righteousness (“moral uprightness and integrity”) and truth.
I think of the kindness of my son’s call and the integrity of his life in urban Pittsburgh. I remember my friend Tom’s ongoing faith and trust in the Lord through crushing financial distress. My wife’s constant focus on bringing good into the lives of the people around her comes to mind. As does the clear, gentle truth of a devotional written by Rusty, a brother in Jesus, who shared it with me today.
Eve took the forbidden fruit because it was “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen. 3:6) We reach for the fruit of the light for similar reasons. Only now, we are not banished into the darkness of isolating sin, but welcomed together into the pleasure of the Lord.
Sweet fruit, indeed.
Gracious, inviting Lord, we thank you for what you are doing in our midst. You bring out of our redeemed lives such wonderful fruit. Don’t let us turn back to the isolating darkness of self, but keep us ever in the light of your love.