Fourth Sunday of Lent: Live as Children of Light

March 10, 2024 | Rev. Jack Sullivan, Jr., D.Min., D.D. | Today’s Readings

“But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3:21)


Several years ago, I attended a potluck dinner at a church on the West Coast. As a guest of the church, I took delight in loading my plate with salmon, potatoes, broccoli — you name it. Then, I stopped by the dessert table and selected a large piece of cake, one that was decorated with pretty icing. With one glance, I judged this cake to be good. 

After finishing my entrée, I sunk my fork into the cake, put the cake in my mouth, and began to chew. Within seconds, my facial expressions gave notice to my dinner companions that something was wrong. I instantly realized that whoever made the cake was faithful in adding the flour and the baking powder, and skillful in adding the eggs and the oil. However, that otherwise dutiful person left out the essential ingredient that makes a cake a cake: sugar! 

In a letter from St. Paul to the Corinthian Christians, we learned that there is one ingredient that is necessary for every Christian to possess — one ingredient that makes a Christian a Christian. You see, as important as our speaking, praying, and financial giving abilities may be, without love, we are just social noisemakers. 

In effect, we are just cornbread decorated with pretty icing, masquerading as cake.

We must confess that at times, it is easy to confuse the cornbread with the pretty icing. Political party, affluence, educational status, and lifestyles of comfort are deemed indicators of faithfulness. However, acceptance of such could serve as cover for human hearts — which crave deeper spirituality, a sense of true and just community, and an escape from the endless loop of self-absorption — so that we may journey aboard the escalator of personal and social transformation.

As Christians, our liberation from the unsatisfying cornbread with “pretty icing” ways of living, and the ability to be the people God expects us to be, comes through our willingness to live lovingly, selflessly, and sacrificially, as modeled by God. 

Both Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, and John, in today’s Gospel, indicated that because God loved us, God gave the best gift to humanity ever: Jesus Christ, God’s only son. In Him, we have life and light! 

When we model God’s love-based generosity, we will receive new energy for living as God’s agents of personal and societal change. We will be people who see God’s image in every person while resisting evil, working for justice, and collaborating for peace.

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