I’ve talked pretty extensively about who John was, and if you missed that you can go back and read it HERE. Beyond the Gospel of John, John also wrote three letters. 2 and 3 John are both extremely short, but I found 1 John to contain some deep and profound words that really spoke to me. In fact, so far in my studies, the book of 1 John is by far the one that inspired me to take the most notes as it continually spoke to me on many levels.
Most accept that 1 John was written right around when he wrote his gospel, putting the date around 90ish ad. This would still be about 60 years after the ascension of Jesus. At the time he wrote this letter, a new group claiming to be Christians had risen up. These people disputed some things about Jesus and claimed that only they had the deep truths that people needed to know. John wrote 1 John in part to describe the characteristics of true followers of Christ so people wouldn’t be led astray by this new group of people.
Verses that jumped
Very early on, John makes a great statement.
1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
The bible describes God many ways. God is love, but here John is saying he’s also something else. God is light. I think it’s an awesome way to describe God. In that single word you’re able to really get so much about who God is. Light is warmth, it’s protection from the dark, and so many other things. John uses this description to move into the next two verses.
1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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 cleanses us from all sin.
What does it mean to be in the light? This is God we’re talking about. If God is light, it’s not some low power, $2 flashlight sort of light. I imagine walking in the light like being lit up by a huge spotlight in the middle of the night. I think the benefits of this speak for themselves, and they’re beautiful. There’s protection from the darkness in that light, and there’s warmth from the cold in that light. It’s a comforting place to be.
But that sort of light exposes us. In an ever darkening world like ours, that sort of light puts you on display for all to see. Sometimes I get lost in the warm fuzzies when I read verses like 1 John 1:6-7, and that’s great, but I feel like there’s more than one lesson to be found here. We’re instructed to go out and be examples of God to others. That’s not a switch you turn off and on. If you’re a true follower of Christ, you don’t just decide that on Mondays you’ll live as an example of Jesus’ love but on Tuesdays you’ll take the day off and sin. When you walk in the light, that beautiful, comforting, sin cleansing light, you are on display to the world around you at all times.
We all know one thing for certain. There’s no more powerful way to turn people away from the church and from Christians than by giving a non-believer a bad interaction with a Christian. These stories become legendary, and they stick with people for years and decades and sometimes lifetimes. They went to church once and got scolded for having a tattoo, or their old preacher told them they were going to hell because they listened to heavy metal music. We all know the “Christians are hypocrites” stories. A lot of us have those stories, too. I know I do. A single bad interaction with a Christian can be all it takes to turn someone away from the church and sometimes away from God.
But. BUT! I have witnessed in my life, and I am living proof of, the absolute power that a right living Christian can wield when they are walking in the light. For me it was my brother, who committed to a new church and stuck there and grew there and worshiped there. I saw the changes in his life, I saw the changes in his behavior, I saw the practicing of what he was preaching, and it drew me in. I’m still a work in progress, but I was told recently by someone close to me that my example over the past few months of seeking God and working to put Him first is what drew them back into a closer relationship with God. So there are two examples of how your walk with God in the light can draw people to the Lord.
I know I’m going on and on about this, but I just felt so strongly about this verse, about the idea of what it means to walk in the light. Part of the deal of walking in the light is being on display. The eyes in the darkness are all of a sudden acutely aware of you. They hear you talking, they see you walking, and your example could be what makes or breaks a chance for them to get closer to God. I’m guilty of not always remembering that, but it strikes me as something that was should always keep in mind.
Closing and prayer
I’m going to be looking at 1 John over the course of this entire week as I wrote 4 parts to this study. I’d really encourage everyone to read 1 John for themselves, it’s filled with great insights into the nature of God as well as the nature of those who follow God.
For prayer this time, I want to pray for some random people on the internet. I’ve recently come across several viciously anti-Christian and anti-God comment threads on various websites. It shocked me to see just how angry and violent people spoke towards Christians and towards God. So I’d ask that you join with me and pray for these people. Jesus didn’t just die for you and me, he died for everyone. Today Lord, I’d ask that you seek out those who are spreading hate and ugly speech against you online. Father, I’d ask that you show them firsthand who you really are. You are a God of love, A lord of tenderness and forgiveness. God, I ask that you place your hand on their shoulder as they sit at the keyboard, just be there with them in a way that is undeniable. Because I know that once they encounter you, once they realize who you are and what you are, they’ll love you just as I love you. Father, your word shows us that not only do you forgive your enemies, but that as they come to know you and accept you they become some of your greatest allies and most honored children. So I’d ask that the next time these people start to say something ugly, instead they run right into you, the God of all creation, and that their hearts and minds will be open to accepting you. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
My many thanks to any of you who prayed that along with me. Whoever you are out there that’s reading this and no matter what circumstance or situation you find yourself in right now in life, I just want you to know that God loves you deeply and dearly. He’s never too busy for you, and you are never far from Him, even if you think you are. I love you guys, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for part two of 1 John!