I have a little sign in my office that says, “Wake. Pray. Slay.” I like to add “Every Day” to that sentiment.
The book of Ephesians is sort of the “wake, pray, slay” book of the Bible. Ephesians teaches us that before knowing Jesus, we were in darkness and that we will face the darkness as we continue to live for Christ. Even so, in Jesus’s name, God has declared us, spoken over us, and named us—“children of light.”
As children of light, Ephesians also teaches that we should do at least three things:
1. Live the Light.
2. Wear the Light.
3. Sing the Light.
I like to imagine that Paul, who wrote Ephesians, had a sign above his desk that read, “Live. Wear. Sing.”
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light.” –Ephesians 5:8 (NLT)
When I was a little girl, one of my least favorite chores was bringing in the trash cans on garbage day. Inevitably, I’d forget to do the job after school and would end up dragging in the bins at night in the dark.
As I ran down my parent’s long driveway, I would totally freak myself out, my imagination going wild. I was afraid of monsters or scary goblins popping out at me. But the funny thing is, if my sister or a friend was with me, we’d still scare ourselves, but we’d giggle about it the entire time. The intimidating journey in the darkness became a joyful and fun one.
Why? Because the darkness is not quite as scary when we’re with others.
It’s no coincidence that Ephesians 5:8 calls followers of Jesus “people of light” or “children of light.” Living as light is not only an individual or privatized pursuit; we shine brighter when we light up the darkness together.
And let’s face it. We all face darkness in life. We’re up against hard, heartbreaking stuff—rejection, loss, anxiety, financial woes, sickness, divorce, lack of rest, abuse in some cases, and much more. But Ephesians teaches that our battle is not against flesh and blood. When we’re facing darkness in life, we are actually up against rulers and authorities of the unseen world, seeking to keep us from living in and from the light of Christ.
But here’s what we know—as children of light, yes, we will go toe to toe with the darkness, but we never have to do it alone. God has given us himself, his spiritual armor (see Ephesians 6), and the gift of each other. This is why being part of a church community, a small group, and/or having a strong group of Christian girlfriends matter so much—we need each other to live the light for the long haul.
When the darkness starts to creep in, we need our Christian family to help us face it—so we can find joy along the way.
“Put on the new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” –Ephesians 4: 24 (NLT)
In other words, Ephesians is saying, Suit up, woman of God!
God wants his children to wear a uniform of light. But before we can get dressed in our new wardrobe, we have to take off the darkness. Ephesians four tells us to:
Take off lying; put on truth.
Take off anger; put on peace.
Take off stealing; put on hard work and generosity.
Take off abusive language and gossip; put on words that speak life.
Take off revenge; put on forgiveness.
Take off giving into every sexual impulse; put on self-control.
Take off addiction; put on the Spirit.
In other words, God never leaves us naked and ashamed. He gives us new clothing to wear—an entirely new humanity to put on—which is such good news.
But how do we suit up? Again, we don’t get dressed alone; we ask the Spirit and our Christian communities to help us get dressed in our “light of Christ” wardrobe. This is not about behavior modification. This is a heart change that results in a life surrounded by the love and light of Jesus.
“Be filled with the Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.” –Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
When my husband and I lived in Zambia, I regularly joined some of the Bemba women who would visit other women dying of HIV-related illnesses. We’d go into mudbrick homes, clean, cook, and care for the sick and dying. The whole time we did this work, we’d sing Zambian worship songs.
It was the first time I realized that singing is not just entertainment or simply“whistling while you work.” Our singing and our worship hold back the darkness. Our singing to God declares gospel hope and gospel dignity over ourselves and over others who are hurting.
This is kind of a crazy thought if you think about it. The evidence of a mature, Spirit-filled faith is, what? Singing? I mean, Ephesians could have said, “Be very proper and pious.” But instead, the Bible says, in the face of darkness – sing! Worship your hearts out!
So friend, whatever darkness you or your loved ones are facing—sing in church, in the shower, sing in the car, sing in hospital beds and in college dorms. Sing contemporary worship songs, hymns, scripture, or liturgy. It doesn’t matter if you can carry a tune. Just make a joyful noise the Lord. Sing the light.
We are invited by God to be the light of Christ and to bring the light of Christ wherever we go. In other words, living, wearing, and singing the light is our personhood and our purpose; our identity and our invitation from God.
Aubrey Sampson is the author of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul and The Louder Song. She and her husband Kevin, with their three young sons, planted Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area, where Aubrey serves on the preaching team. Aubrey is part of the Propel Cohort at Wheaton College and travels around the country speaking and preaching. Find and follow Aubrey on Instagram, Facebook, and on her website.