Ancient Answers

Guidance for Today from Scripture and Early Christianity

From darkness to light

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In today’s reading from Ephesians 5:8-19 Paul tells us to expose darkness and bring it into the light so it becomes light! This beautifully summarizes what was Jesus’ own customary way of healing and teaching, which was to bring people out into the open, where they could be healed and brought into communion with Christ. So in today’s Gospel reading. Was his purpose to destroy the rich man? No, his purpose was to expose him, to bring him into the light. The man walks away disappointed, but nowhere is it indicated that that was the end of the story. And after Jesus made is startling statement about how difficult it is for rich men to be saved, he followed up with more reassuring words: “With man this is impossible; with God all things are possible.” The rich man was brought into the light; we don’t know what was the result.

The gospel’s purpose is not to condemn people. The gospel’s purpose is not to separate people into ‘us’ and ‘them’. The gospel’s purpose is not to make some people puffed up because they are ‘saved’! The gospel’s purpose is to bring people into the light and to expose the darkness. And we expose the darkness not in order to humiliate people or to condemn them, but in order to make the darkness light – at least according to Paul in his letter to Ephesians (5:11-14).

Dear friends, the issue is not whether you go to heaven – however you visualize heaven. Like Jesus said, it’s impossible – but with God all things are possible. So let’s leave that business to God. Our purpose is not to worry about heaven. Our business is to be in communion with Jesus Christ, to participate in his life. As a matter of fact, participation is the way Orthodox theology likes to view salvation – participation in the life of Christ, becoming partakers of the divine nature, as 2 Peter puts – participants in the divine nature by being united with Christ, partaking of his life. Hebrews 3:14 calls us to be μέτοχοι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. I want to be μέτοχος του Χριστού. Don’t you?

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