On light, darkness, and jesting
I frequently think of Saint Paul much like an occasionally embarrassing uncle giving a toast at a wedding. He starts off well - clever and insightful - but then there's a point where you just kind of wish he'd stop talking. In Ephesians 5, Paul starts off with something I can really get on board with when he writes "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." Fantastic, Uncle Paul! LOVE it!
Then he continues and my enthusiasm is dulled and - were we at a wedding - I'd probably be heading to the bar at this point. He begins talking about sinfulness - which is OK (we all need to hear when we've missed the mark) but wedged in between uncleanness, covetousness, and filthiness and whoremongering and idolatry he puts "jesting."
Really, Uncle Paul? Lighten up! The world can be a pretty dark place, and we are rightly encouraged to reprove the works of darkness. I get all of that. But sometimes, in even the darkest of moments, nothing can allow a sliver of light in like a good laugh. I know we ought not to laugh at someone else's expense, but I just can't put jest on the same list as, say, whoremongering. And, besides, I don't need to really laugh at anyone's expense, since I seem to provide enough folly in myself to never have to search it out in others. So, I'm probably going to politely agree to disagree with good old Uncle Paul on this one. I enjoy laughter far too much to stop jesting.
Saint Paul finishes in verse 14 with a great song-ready catchphrase: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." That's more like it! I'll stop there with a smile, because soon he's going to move onto wives being submissive to their husbands, and that's something even I wouldn't joke about.