Summary: Our aim is to live a Christ-like life in which we are daily being conformed to his image... but when we fail we are assured of God's continuing grace.
Title: Don’t! But if you do…
Text: I John 1:1-2:2
Thesis: Our aim is to live a Christ-like life in which we are being conformed to his image daily... but if we fail we are assured of God's continuing grace in Jesus.
This is the Second Sunday of Easter. We recently reflected on Philippians 2:5-11 where we found that Jesus, though equal with God, did not consider being God something to be grasped. Rather he humbled himself and became human, taking upon himself the role of a servant and then humbled himself even more by dying the death of a criminal. In the Philippians text we readily see the contrast between Deity and humanity – immortality and mortality.
In his best-selling book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey contrasts the humility that characterized Jesus’ visit to planet earth with the prestigious image associated with world rulers today:
In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.
Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.
In contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. (Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, 1995)
In Philip Yancey’s story we see the contrast between the accommodations of royalty and the accommodations of commoners.
Jesus spoke of himself once saying, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. In his comments about himself Jesus spoke of the contrast between having a home and homelessness.
Our text today begins with a contrast between living in the light and living in darkness.
I. Living in the Light, (God is light…)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. I John 1:5-7
I had a conversation with a man years ago in which he described an experience in which God appeared to him in the form of a dark and shadowy character. After I heard his story I was pretty sure it wasn’t God whom he encountered. Nowhere in scripture is God ever described as dark or shadowy. God is always resplendent in light.
In this context the allusion to light is not necessarily about God being something of a lightbulb. In this context we understand God to be pure and holy. We understand God to be faithful and true. We understand God to be the epitome of love and grace and mercy.
Our text speaks of two ways to live our lives:
A. Life in the Darkness
…in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. I John 1:6
The opposite of life in the light is life in the darkness. To live in darkness is to not be in relationship with God and to not live out in practice a Christ-like life consistent with God’s Word.
Paul wrote of this darkness in Ephesians 5:6-9, Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins for the anger of God will fall on those who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have the light of the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
Dallas Willard writes about a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl in her backyard who one day discovered the secret to making mud (which she called "warm chocolate"). Her grandmother had been reading and was facing away from the action, but after cleaning up what was to her a mess, she told little Larissa not to make any more chocolate and turned her chair around so as to be facing her granddaughter.