Finding home here.
Key Text: 1 John 1:5-10
Every single one of here have a deep and profound need to belong. It drives our interactions, and how we see ourselves. The irony or the tragedy is that so many of us live life with a chronic sense that we don’t belong.
Now we have addressed alienation several weeks back and how the gospel answers this. However, I want to take this reality a step further in our application of belonging.
The need to belong is so fundamental so core to our existence that we generally do it badly. Sin creeps in and takes advantage of this need and then makes us terrible at it.
So rather than belonging we create pockets of falseness that satisfy our temporary need to belong but leave us longing for true and real intimacy.
Let me illustrate; you come here week by week because there is a sense of belonging; you like the fact that people know you and that you get along with your group; however –and this is a big HOWEVER – than need for belonging causes you to pretend to be who you are not. You are not truly yourself with the people that you feel belonging with and so a sense of disconnect grows and you wonder why you feel a stranger with the people who know you best.
So as we finish up this year I want us to address the reality of belonging. This church and your fellowship groups that are here have the potential to be the place where that primary need of belonging can be fulfilled; if you are in grace enough to grasp it!
So; let’s look at it. Our text for tonight is 1 John 1:5-10 and as per usual with John’s writing he uses good symbols to drive a very direct point. John usually comes across more direct and harsher than others and yet his language is more poetic.
1 John 1:5-10New International Version (NIV)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all[a] sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
How I want to tackle this tonight is to firstly look at the directive, then see why and finally look at the dangers.
So John says;
1.Walk in the light
John says “if we walk in the light we have fellowship with one another.” This seems like exactly what we are looking for.
The problem is we have to discover what the light is. What does it mean to walk in the light?
Well to be painfully simply it is the opposite of walking in darkness… John says if we walk in darkness we lie and do not live by the truth. So then is walking in the light living in truth, why didn’t John just say God is truth whoever walks in truth has fellowship?
Because there is more here that truth. Yes God is truth, and walking in the light will, by necessity demand truthfulness, but there is a deeper and more impactful reality here.
Walking in the light has two equal realities to it and both need to be engaged if we are going to discover the blessing that John says ours if we walk in the light; we will have fellowship. We will discover the belonging that we so long for.
So what are these two realities?
Walking in the light has a sense of exposure in this understanding.
John purposely contrasts two realities in this passage light and darkness.
Darkness both scripturally and practically brings up images of things being evil, hidden and difficult.
If you go into an abandoned house; would you prefer to go there when it is pitch black or in the middle of the day? Obviously in the middle of the day!
Why because at night in the darkness, danger seems to be more real.
There is the danger of tripping over unseen items as well as the fear of the unknown and useable.
I find it amusing as a 32 year old how when I am stumbling through the darkness during a power failure; there is a strange sense of panic and fear.
Walking in the light means walking without things hidden, walking honestly and openly.
Practically it means not living a lie. Not trying to be something you are not, it means being open and honest about your challenges and struggles with each other.
Church we know this; but living with things hidden gives them power and makes us weak. Yet so often we simply cannot bring ourselves to live in true fellowship with each other in the light; living honestly with each other.
To me my best times in life has been those rare open and candid conversation I have had with people. Where everything is laid bare. The problem is that we so rarely live there; and I think we rarely live there because of the second reality of walking in the light.
The second reality is connected to the fact that John says in verse 5:
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
There is an undeniably reality of walking in the light which is the fact that…
2.God is light
You cannot separate this; walking in the light is walking with God; it is living with Him as He is and being who you are with Him.
This takes into account His radical Holiness, is glory, His love His power.
You walk with Him as He is; you grasp the wonder of the gospel! You engage Him. This only happens if you know Him in the wonderful light of the gospel; if you have gone from that religious trying to live up to God to that freeing reality of God reaching you and fixing you with His love and His grace.
Piper put it this way:
“There is a walk, there is a lifestyle, that necessarily results from the miracle of new birth when we are given eyes to see the surpassing worth of the light of God.”
God is truth, He is holiness, He is absolute power, He is wrath and love. We get all this when we walk in the light. When we walk in who He really is.
This means that we see the truth of this world in the light of His absolute truth; what the world calls good, we see it in God’s exposing light and call it bad.
The gospel and the gospel alone connects us to this light, for it is the gospel – Jesus paying the price – that invites us into that light and fulfils the demand of that light. Without grace we would be wholly overwhelmed by the demand of God’s light.
Imagine if the gospel meant that you were forced from day one to expose every inner thought and sin, imagine if you would; that as you believed your sins would come up in writing all over your body; it would overwhelmed us; we would not be able to handle the shame. However, if you think about it as you walk with Christ; so he teaches you to expose your sins to defeat them, to not let them define you but for you to hate them enough to call them out. He teaches us to shout out with pride; this is who I was; now Christ has cleansed me, or is cleansing me from this!
Walking in the light by necessity is walking with God and walking with God means experiencing all that He is and allowing that to become our reality!
True belonging is possible here; it is possible in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ; that all of us are sinners called by grace to live in the exposing light of His love and mercy with each other and we call each other to live more and more in that reality.
If we grow together in His light so our corporate Holiness grows; we know Him more and so demand more of ourselves; not to win favour rather our of love. And we call each other to do the same.
But John gives us a stark and clear warning at the end of this verse; and in this exposes the tendency of our hearts.
He warns us;
3.Be careful of the lie
At first reading this passage makes a start change in verse 8. Where john is first talking about walking in light and darkness, he now quickly and suddenly changes to say;
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
John, like only John can, speaks clearly and brutally; you think you have no sin; you are a liar, you deceiver yourself and you are calling God a liar. Why would he say this here?
There is a danger in the heart of man to think once you have overcome some of the bigger, more blatant sins that you have achieved a state of sinlessness.
Martin Luther stated his first thesis that he nailed to the wall of the Wittenberg Castle church…
"When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."
We cannot escape our need for repentance nor should we, our salvation is dependent upon our surrender to the work of Christ and recognition of our need for him.
We cannot escape that nature that pulls us down, so we walk in the light!
Church if you think that you have arrived you have deceived yourself and called God a liar…
The danger of this fellowship is that we set up ourselves in a graceless reality; where because we have overcome some sins we find ourselves thinking more of ourselves that we ought.
In fact, if we walk in the light we should be able to see the deception in saying we are without sin and then have an honest evaluation of ourselves.
Our fellowship is centred on the fact that we are community of grace. This should typify us and define us. In fact this is what it is to walk in the light.
If we would deal with each other in the same light that God deals with us how much different would this place be? How would our fellowship be if we aligned ourselves with firstly a pursuit of God?
So, church I pray that you find a home here in this community; that you have people around you here that are firstly walking with Him, seeking His glory and then walking openly and honestly with each other; sharing your weakness and struggles.
This comes from us walking in the light, it is here that we find fellowship… it start and ends with God!