"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness..." Ephesians 5:11. This scripture planted itself squarely in my thoughts today. I was minding my own business, going about my work, & there it was.
For whatever reason, I had also been thinking about the musical "Sweeny Todd" & how I enjoyed Tim Burton's version in particular. It's a story of murderous revenge that seems justified & even profitable for a time, until a little boy discovers the truth behind those tasty meat pies... There's redemption (eventually) & the offenders lose their lives. But throughout the film, there is murder & merry making... Sarcasm & blood flow freely. I can't help but wonder if this is pleasing to God though. You might say "Its just a movie. Or even, "Its a classic!" But really, what would God say?
Ephesians 4:30 says not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God... Ephesians 5:1 says we are to be imitators of God... The next 19 verses tell us what to avoid: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, every form of malice, sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking... Does this mean we shouldn't watch movies or listen to music that portray these things? And to take it a step further, does this mean we shouldn't be engaging in these things ourselves, whether in thought or deed? And yet how many of us do? How seriously do we take the Word?
I find myself struggling with this- I mean, I like Sweeny Todd... but it portrays bitterness, rage, anger, slander, malice... among other things. What kind of fruit did the main character reap? In the end, he was met with insanity, grief & death. His were fruitless deeds of darkness. I occasionally let myself get bitter & angry... I let obscenity or coarse joking slip by every once in a while... I could check off nearly everything on the list at some point or another. All these things are fruitless deeds. What can I possibly gain from them? It certainly won't be the righteous life that God wants me to live.
"Well, nobody's perfect" you might say. True. But its not an excuse to sweep things under the rug. "You're being legalistic," another might say, "with your list of 'dos & don'ts'"... But Remember Eph. 5:11? There's more to it than just ignoring or avoiding the deeds of darkness- the last part of the verse says to expose those fruitless deeds to the Light. Why? Because the Light makes everything visible. We'll begin to see those things for what they really are... bare, dead, fruitless branches... they're tangled up, hidden among the good branches & need to get lopped off. They need to be pruned so we can produce good fruit. Exposure requires action on our part- it requires submission, repentance, change... Its not legalism, its life.
"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness..." Its not a suggestion. Its not a command. Its a warning. Are we listening?