Summary: Adding to the metaphor used for Jesus in his Gospel, John points us to the life we live in God’s Light
How have you been feeling lately? Does it seem like you have a decreased amount of energy? Do you feel fatigued? Have you been craving sugar and eating more than usual? In the last two months have you had difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? Are you sleeping more than usual, been less productive, and more irritable?
If you answered “yes” to most of those questions you may have S.A.D.? What is S.A.D.? Those three letters are an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a mild to severe depression that affects millions of people each fall and winter. In laymen’s terms we might call it the “winter blues.”
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight, which in turn alters a person’s brain chemistry. During the fall and winter months when the hours of daylight are shorter, less light passes through the eyes which then inhibits the release of an important brain chemical, serotonin. When serotonin is not released in sufficient quantities, symptoms of depression may occur. Melatonin, another important brain chemical which regulates our sleep cycle, is released in greater quantities, adding to the depressive state.
How is Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) treated? The standard treatment for this disorder is “light” therapy. In fact, it is the primary treatment recommended by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, and it is also backed by extensive medical research through the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health. The principal behind light therapy is that by increasing a person’s exposure to bright light, the chemicals in a person’s brain can be brought back to normal levels and lessen or remove the symptoms of S.A.D. The advantages of light therapy are that it is simple to administer, requires no medication, and has minimal side effects.
Although (S.A.D.) only affects a few of us, about 1 in 5 people, there is a similar spiritual disease that affects all of us. Let’s call it Spiritual Affective Disorder. At times our spiritual life may enter a season of sleepiness. We may become lethargic in our love for God and unproductive in our life of service to him. We may be drawn into the darkness of sin and the evil deeds that go with that darkness. In turn our lives are not what they could be.
This Spiritual Affective Disorder happens when we leave God’s light—his love, and truth, and merciful presence. But there is a sure cure. When we return to God’s light the symptoms of spiritual darkness are dispersed. Let’s take to heart the encouragement of these verses from 1 John 1:5-10 (Read text.) May the Holy Spirit lead you to:
“LIVE YOUR LIFE IN GOD’S LIGHT”
I. Let Him shine in you
II. Let Him shine on you
III. Let Him shine through you
In this inspired letter the disciple whom Jesus loved tells us about God’s love and the impact of that love on the life of a believer. Another word picture John used in both his gospel and his letter is that of light. In his gospel John quotes Jesus several times as he referred to himself as the Light of the world. Here in his first letter John continues his use of the image of light as salvation, and holiness, and the presence and essence of God.
When John wrote his letter there were false teachers in the church who were saying that a person can have the light of God and still live in the darkness of sin. John makes it clear that this is utter foolishness. A person who loves the Light won’t live in the darkness of sin. Those who talk the talk of having fellowship with God won’t walk the walk of having fellowship with darkness.
When a person is diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder they are treated with light. It is a simple cure. The treatment for spiritual affective disorder is also light. We do not need more of the physical light we see around us coming from a bulb or the sun to treat our spiritual sickness. We need God’s light. He must shine in us.
The very first statement that John makes about God being light penetrates our soul like a bolt of lightening. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” We can quickly see the extent of the spiritual problem we face. If you will pardon the play on words the difference between us and God in relation to light is like night and day. He is absolutely holy. In that sense he “lives in unapproachable light.” We obviously are not holy and therefore cannot approach him.
So what will happen when we let God shine in us? His light therapy will reveal the root cause of our spiritual affective disorder. The light of his LAW shows us how much darkness lurks within us. John pointed out how darkness can creep into the life of a believer. “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” How can that happen to us? How can we claim to have fellowship with the Light and yet walk in the darkness of sin? Another name for it is hypocrisy. We claim to be a Christian. We claim to love God and we even claim membership in a church. But the life we live doesn’t go along with the claims we make. Does someone who claims to love the Lord Jesus continue to use his name to curse and swear? Will those who claim to walk in fellowship with the Giver of life show disrespect for the gift of life? How can those who claim to be clothed with Christ soil themselves with greed, and hatred, and lust, and gossip, and slander? Can those who claim to be the Bride of Christ dishonor him by breaking their earthly marriage vows or by living a loveless life toward the spouse to whom they are united? John gives a clear answer to all those questions. No! We can’t claim fellowship with the Light and continue to walk in the darkness. If we are doing that we need God’s light to shine in us.