Lifestyle Evangelism: Reflecting God's Light
Authenticating the Message by Characterization Through Reflection
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matt. 5:14-15)
The Light's Source: Jesus came as the light of the world. (See John 1:1-9; 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46.)
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (Eph. 5:8)
The Light's Effect: Our light points others to the Lord.
"... let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:16)
The Light's Character: Living as "children of light" means that we will reflect Him to others in not only what we say to them but also in how we live.
The context surrounding Ephesians 5:8, where we are told to "live as children of light," gives some clues as to the light's character.
Eph. 5:2a - "... live a life of love, just as Christ loved us ..."
We should be lights because we love God and therefore love people (Matt. 22:37-40). Witnessing can too quickly become a matter of duty rather than the compulsion of love. Living the Christian life before others can be done for the applause of men rather than being motivated by a desire to please the One we love who taught us to love others.
Eph. 5:2b - "... Christ ... gave himself up for us ..."
The Light, Jesus, came into the world (Jn. 3:19) with the ultimate purpose of giving Himself up for us (Jn. 3:16). He left the glory of heaven and came to where mankind lived (Phil. 2:6-8). The approach we use should be similar. We should go where people are, find common ground, and there "live as children of light."
Eph. 5:9 - "... for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, ..."
The epitome of our goodness will come in how we treat those who oppose us. It is easy to be a light around people who respond favorably. Jesus said "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matt. 6:46-47)
Eph. 5:9 - "for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth"
When you "live as children of light" you do not have to manipulate people into believing. Imploring and persuading people to come into a relationship with Jesus (2 Cor. 5:11-21) is different from being coercive and deceptive about it. Learn from the Apostle Paul's example in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 and 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13.
Eph. 5:11, 14 - "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. ... for it is light that makes everything visible."
Jesus came full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14). He didn't just live right and do good deeds. He also spoke truth. He exposed the darkness around Him. Light brings warmth but it also reveals. When using the term "lifestyle evangelism" it means that the whole of your life ... that your ambition, approach, accountability, and aim ... is to point people to Jesus. As a reflector of Jesus' light, you will help authenticate the message by giving people opportunity to experience God's grace through your good deeds. And, your light will also reveal the truth so people can hear and believe.
The Conclusion to all of this is in verses 15-16:
- Be careful to live wisely.
- Make the most of every opportunity.
The "how-to" comes with the "therefore" with which verse 17 begins:
- understand what the Lord's will is (which we learn from His Word)
- be filled with the Spirit (which lets us know we are not able to be this way by our own power)
- live in community (which yields a far greater impact than an isolated light)
The remainder of Ephesians goes on to speak of what this will look like in different kinds of relationships (marriage, family, workplace) because it is in these contexts that the real essence of our being is manifest.
So, be a light
wherever you are,
with whomever you are with,
and in whatever you say and do.
And then Ephesians concludes with an admonition to put on spiritual armor because living as children of light will meet with opposition from the enemy who does not want you to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."