Summary: Darkness is all around us, and rather unpleasantly, inside us when we walk as we ought not to walk. God calls us to walk in the light as He is in the light.
Me and the dark don’t get along, at all. When we were first married, Barb and I lived in a small basement apartment that had 6 ½ foot ceilings. That’s fine because I’m about 6’ 2”. One problem.
On the way to the washroom in the middle of the night from the bedroom area, there was a pipe that hung down 5 inches from the ceiling. You get where I’m going. Lots of welts on the head. We moved as soon as we could.
Most likely, most of us here aren’t afraid of the dark, per se. But we’re not particularly adept at maneuvering in the dark. We all have our share of stories of stubbed toes (funny to watch, not-so-funny to experience).
We’ve likely smacked our heads in the dark, dropped keys in the dark, got lost in the dark. Darkness is a problem for humans. I know that complete darkness is beneficial for us to get a good sleep, but other than that, darkness is not our friend.
In our Scripture reading today, John the Apostle is concerned about darkness. He’s concerned about the effect of darkness on Christians in particular.
He wants us to walk not in the darkness, where there are all kinds of hazards; rather, he wants us to walk in the light.
It might be helpful to have a little background on the situation John was writing into. Did you know that all of the letters of epistles in the New Testament were responses?
They were letters written in response to problems that were developing in the early churches. Paul’s letters, Peter’s letters, John’s letters and others – they were written out of concern for how Christians were doing in the early days of the church.
Now more than likely, John was writing to 2nd and 3rd generation Christians. Those who were not eye witnesses to Jesus’ life and miracles. There’s no indication in this book of mass persecutions of the church.
That’s not to say persecution wasn’t happening, just that it hadn’t yet impacted the church everywhere. But among the second and third generation Christians, there’s evidence here that the moral and ethical demands of the gospel on the individual Christian were beginning to weigh on the church.
You know, there is a sheen on new clothes. There’s that new car smell. There’s the fresh excitement and vibrancy in a new relationship. And there’s a bloom on a person who has come to Christ recently.
For someone who has just come to believe in, and who has received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, there is a whole new world to explore. Everything about the life of faith is fresh and wonderful. Often prayers are answered in huge volume. There’s often deliverance from addictions and from a compulsion to sin. There’s just the whole awesome experience of learning about our new identity in Jesus Christ.
There’s just a lot of getting used to the realization that we truly matter to God, that God has loved us enough to save us through the blood of Christ, that God really does have a purpose for our lives and plans to prosper and bless us, and bless the world around us, through us.
The church is often new too. All these new relationships and this new community where we can share very close to the heart with new friends. It’s awesome. In some ways I’ve never gotten used to it. Hope I never do.
But a very normal thing happens. And to the Christians that John is writing to, something very normal and understandable has happened.
The bloom has been fading. The joy of the Lord, abundant to the new believer, has been impacted by the trials and tribulations of just living.
Freedom from addiction and the tendency to indulge in sin, often a gracious gift from God to new believers, was less of an easy thing to sustain, and was becoming more of a discipline – a daily choice to walk in holiness and reverence for God.
In a sense, for new believers, God does a lot of the work for them through the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, making it pretty easy to walk the walk. That was true in my life, for sure. Gradually though, because God wants us to mature, because He knows we can’t stay infants in the faith for ever, the work of the Holy Spirit changes in our lives.
By His grace seen in our lives as we stumble and fall, we learn that we need to truly cleave to God, we need to exercise our faith, to intentional practice what we believe.
We need to walk in our identity; that means the choices that we make need to reflect the choices of someone who no longer belongs to himself or herself – we belong to God.