And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil…But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. –John 3:16-21
John’s beautiful and profound words in the third chapter of his gospel lay out for us the two paths in life—the way of light and the way of darkness. John says that the one who loves good comes to the Light—Jesus Christ—and the one who loves evil shuns the Light, preferring darkness so that his evil deeds may not be seen.
Interesting, isn’t it, that John so clearly connects coming to the Light, Jesus Christ, with doing good deeds that have been wrought in God? We Lutherans who believe that we are saved by grace through faith apart from works often forget that God has created us for good works, and indeed, has redeemed us for good works! God didn’t create us to sit all fat and sassy in our easy-chairs, letting the world go by. Rather, we were born, and born anew, for good works—to love Him and serve our neighbor in charity, generosity and kindness. These are the works we have been saved to do—and we do them in the light, not to be seen by others but that they may give glory to the God who created us and in whom these good deeds have been wrought. As Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel (and as we recall in the Sacrament of Baptism), “let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” This is our reason and purpose for living—and it doesn’t take forty days to figure it out! Because we are saved, we are to give ourselves in love and service, doing what is true and right and just.
Sometimes we do forget that, don’t we? Sometimes we get so caught up with daily living that we forget we were created for good works. Thank God we have the season of Lent to turn us around and bring us back to our life’s purpose—living for God and for others! What good deed can you do this Lent to help your neighbor and give glory to God?
Almighty God, draw us to the one true Light, which is Christ our Savior, that we may do good in His name, for your glory; through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.