Try to Find Out
You know what struck me the most about this text today? This phrase, "Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord." Wasn't Paul's whole job to help people learn what is pleasing to the Lord? Why didn't he just tell them?
Or maybe (you can see where this is going) -- maybe Paul didn't know what was pleasing to the Lord for everybody.
When someone close to me nearly died of cancer, her 11-year-old daughter questioned the meaning of life. I remember having a deep conversation with her one afternoon. "I think the meaning of life," I said, "is to discover the meaning of your life." It was a turning moment for her (and me). It helped me to see that, not only is the journey more important than the destination, but that the meaning and purpose of my life is vastly different than someone else's meaning and purpose.
Instead of talking of specific behaviors, Paul spoke of light and dark. Move toward the light. Move away from the darkness. What's light for me will be distinctly different from what's light for you. Neither are better nor worse. Some people are quite devoted to the militant protection of our country. Brave soldiers risk their lives to protect me and the people I love. Their mission is light to them. They have found their purpose. For me, the thought of going overseas to use weapons against other humans brings me terror, anxiety, and darkness. I know that joining the military is not light for me.
Here's the thing. I have ginormous respect for people whose light is the military. Seriously. There is more than enough room on this planet for their light and mine to live together. This world needs both. Their light protects the world. My light makes the world worth protecting. So "try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord" in your own life. Nobody can tell you what brings you light. This is your journey. Crush it!
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 5:6-14
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”