Have you ever watched kids play that swimming pool game "Marco Polo" where one has to close their eyes and try to catch the others just by their sense of hearing? On our youth trip last week, I was reminded how frustrating that game can be, especially when the person who is "it" doesn't peek. I can only imagine the frustration of truly being blind. The few minutes in the game is plenty frustration and reaching out into the darkness for me.
But just try to imagine that. Paul tells us in our text that that's what we were: "You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." You see, we've been given our sight. If you've been blind and were given the gift of sight again, I'm sure you'd never want to be blind again. So Paul shouldn't have to say what he does next. He tells us to live as children of light and have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, not even talking about them.
That's a no-brainer, right? Well, if it is, how do you explain why the news media thinks you're interested in Brittney's latest trip to rehab or who is the father of some superstar's baby? If it really is a no-brainer, why do the paparazzi get paid so much money for their pictures and stars demand so much cash for their "revealing" interviews? Why? Because you pay for them; because by our TV and movie and conversation choices, we beg to hear and see more about the sin other sinners are committing. We love the juicy details. We want to see more, hear more, constantly push the envelope. You know, if we Christians were doing what Paul tells us here - the paparazzi would be out of a job. But the darkness is so intriguing. And the sad thing is, it gets our eyes used to the dark.
On the last day of our youth trip, most of the kids stayed up all night until our 4:30 am wake-up time. Then when we got in the vans, it was pretty quiet, until we had to flip on the lights to find our map. You would've thought we had thrown acid on the kids the way they reacted to that light - but I can understand it. Their eyes had become accustomed to the dark, so the light was painful.
That truth is just as true spiritually. Our society has become comfortable with sin, because we've seen it so much. What would our great-grandparents say if they saw what was on regular TV these days?
So what's the solution? What's the cure to the disease of letting your spiritual eyes get used to the darkness? Well, same thing as for our physical eyes - light. Paul says, "This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'" Get your eyes used to the light instead. Sometimes that takes an initial shock, but as your eyes adjust to what you are seeing, you'll never want to look at darkness again.
You see, looking to the light, you'll see Christ. You'll see the one who destroyed the darkness of sin, death, and hell with his suffering and death on the cross. He shone the bright light of victory in his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven. And he changes our lives when we realize just how bright that light is.
He has made us children of light. Why would we ever want to give up that beautiful position? Why would we ever choose blindness over sight, the darkness over light? We wouldn't. We won't - as long as we keep our eyes adjusted to the light by constantly and consistently looking to the light of Christ shining brightly in his Word, being shared by your brothers and sisters in Christ. And by the way, those brothers and sisters in Christ are looking forward to joining their lights with yours so that together we can shine Christ's love that much brighter right here in Newton County.
Pastor Jonathan E. Scharf