Have you ever been in a fog so dense you could barely see your hand out in front of you? Or maybe a snow storm so intense you could not make out what was ahead because it was so obstructed by the intensity of the flakes falling? Or perhaps a dust storm so dark you felt enveloped by the darkness? If you have, then you probably know how totally inadequate you felt making any kind of move - you just didn't want to venture into the unknown because of the potential harm which might be right in front of you, but be totally unrecognized. Even when the storm finally passes, the fog clears, the dust settles, it is quite possible things will appear differently. The dust leaves this huge layer of sandy substance over everything, in every crevice. The snow changes the once recognizable things into mounds, but conceals what is underneath. The fog leaves moisture which weighs down even the strongest of plants. What is missing in most storms is the light! In the midst of the storm, light is not our major focus - it is the "murkiness" the storm creates, isn't it?
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. (Ephesians 5:8-10 MSG)
Murk is nothing more than darkness or gloom. Paul tells us of two conditions of the body, mind, and spirit - one without Christ (dark and gloomy); the other with Christ (full of light and filled with actions of the light). We have a tendency to "grope" in the darkness, don't we? We "feel our way" - blindly searching. This is what it is like to attempt to live godly lives apart from the grace of Christ within - at best, we "feel our way" through, but we all know the dangers of just living by what we "feel", right? Living by what we feel leads to doing things just because we "feel" like it, and putting off others just because we don't "feel" like it. The dependence on living by what we feel produces less than stellar results!
The passage above plainly states we are no longer groping - we don't have to rely upon feelings any longer. We can experience a new freedom of movement in Christ - because he is light and where he is, there is light. Our ways become plain - the need to "feel our way through" no longer is the best plan! Three things Paul challenges us with in this passage - get on with the good, the right, and the true - actions appropriate for the light! Don't miss the fact he is drawing our attentions away from the tendency to just not "try" by directing our attention to us taking actions - actions which are appropriate for the light - figuring out what will please God and then DOING it. So, in contrast to being in the dark, where we take very little action because we are afraid to, he challenges us to begin to take "appropriate" actions now that we have the light within.
* Actions which are good. Whenever we think of "good" actions, we usually equate them to positive outcomes, don't we? These type of actions are usually profitable in some way - they produce some type of advantage to the one taking them. When we begin to save for the first time, laying aside only a small amount each month begins to add up. In time, we see the action as advantageous and as profitable to us, correct? The same is true when we begin to take actions which are virtuous, morally correct, and of such worth they cannot be denied as "good". The actions are "sound" - they are reliable. If you have ever taken any action which was unreliable, you know how "uneasy" it made you feel. The "soundness" of the action was the issue - it was unreliable. So, if we are to change the actions we take, we must change the focus we have toward them. All growth is incremental - but all growth occurs because action is taken. The first times we spend reading the Bible may not seem very "good" - they don't seem beneficial or profitable. But...in time, when we least expect it, the Word returns to us - specifically when we need it. The action we took was profitable! It produced something reliable in our steps.
* Actions which are right. This is the point when we begin to evaluate our judgment and see if it aligns with the light within. We often make "judgment calls" - stepping out without really knowing for sure - because it just seems right. Not every path is clearly marked out for us. Sometimes we just need to make "good" judgment calls. We can only do this when we begin to operate in the realm of learning what is virtuous, morally correct, and of such supreme worth as to be pursued in the first place. When we begin to "adapt" to the light within, we soon find our "judgment calls" begin to align with what is good.
* Actions which are true. A better word to use here is possibly actions which are authentic. When we begin to take actions which have a sound foundation because they are based on the light of Christ within us, we begin to take actions which are a little less phony - they are authentic. As a storm begins to clear, don't we still have a little bit of a hard time seeing things with clarity? We have to allow the light to break through the dullness caused by the storm, don't we? A huge sea of emotions is at work within us - leaving us in a mess of a storm at times. In the midst of the storm, the best actions we take only mimic purposeful actions - but at best, we are just groping our way through. Emotion-based actions are unreliable - they often don't reflect what is "true". They often are not authentic - we are simply going through the motions because it is what is expected of us. Light has a way of exposing our authenticity, doesn't it?
Authenticity is based on having become acquainted with what is right and good - what is reliable and profitable; what is best. When we say something is the "genuine article", we are attesting to its reliability as being authentic. It is not "artificial" or "generic". This is what light has the ability to do within each of us - it challenges us to move from being "artificial" to being "authentic"! Light has a way of exposing our actions - actions which are appropriate for the light have a way of displaying themselves as the "genuine article". Don't know about you, but I am tired of groping in the darkness - time to allow the genuine article to be exposed and then to see what light can do. Just sayin!