Wednesday, April 13, 2005

God's Flood Lamp

Growing up in South Florida, life was infested with cockroaches, or sometimes more tastefully referred to as water bugs. We could never get rid of the things in spite of the effort in killing them by force or with pesticides. When you turned on the lights in the kitchen late at night or in the morning before the sun was up, it was almost a guarantee that you would see several of the little pests running for cover trying to escape from being exposed in the open where they could be easily killed, choosing to invade under cover of darkness.

This effect is not too different from what we find around us in life at times. The Gospel of John gives us a picture of the entry of the Light into the world in John 1:1-10. John introduces this image to us by starting at the beginning and describing the Word and that the Word was with God and was God and all things were created by the Word. Later in v14 we learn who the Word is when John writes that the Word became flesh and dwelt among them. The Word was Jesus. But John also gives us some additional imagery in identifying him as the life and light of men, v 4. In particular there are two key things that John identifies with the light. First, in v5, the light shone in the darkness but the darkness did not comprehend it. Then further in v9, the Light, Jesus, is the true Light that lights every man that is in the world.

To expand on this imagery further, we find another instance of light being used in the book of 1 John 1:5-7. Here the light is used to describe that God is light and that there is no darkness in him. The image is then expanded to that of us walking in the light, but that we cannot claim to have fellowship with God and also walk in darkness for to do so would be a lie. But, it’s the basis of walking in the light that allows us to have fellowship first with God, then with others that are walking in the light, and also to be cleansed from our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.

For us living in a physical world where absolute bright light or darkness is difficult to relate to, the contrast provided in 1 John can be missed but the contrast is clear, we can either walk in light or darkness but not both, there is no “grey area”. When I’m outside on a hot, sunny day or happen to be in an area where the light is especially intense, I look at myself and all of a sudden the imperfections in my skin become very obvious. Likewise, everything around me is seen for what it is: the scratches in my car, the cracks in my driveway, the leaves under my trees that need raking. However, on a moonless night I can barely see the shape of my hand in front of my face let alone know what imperfections I have or are around me or where I’m going. It’s no wonder that a majority of crimes are committed at night.

It is important to understand what 1 John means by encouraging us to walk in light rather than in darkness. The word walk is used throughout scripture to identify the manner of life and conduct, our direction and aim. In application then, we should want to be in the light and strive to stay in the light. But how many times have we caught ourselves seeking how close we can get to something that is not part of the light, to that which is in darkness? Is that walking in the light? Likewise, do we try to rationalize our actions at times in an attempt to convince ourselves that it’s not that big of a deal and in effect living out the contradiction in the statement “innocent looking sins.” What about when we chose to do it our way rather than God’s although it may seem good?

Walking in the light is not easy for it will expose us for what we are and if we’re not humble enough to deal with what is easily seen and try to remove it from our lives with God’s help, it can drive us to instead seek darkness where those faults cannot be seen by us or by others. But, while we might succeed in hiding these things from our consciousness and that of others, do not forget the two warnings that we find in these passages. First, the Light exposes and lights every man in this world, John 1:9, none will escape it. Second, that if we say we have fellowship with God but walk in darkness seeking to hide what we are or are doing, then we lie and do not the truth, 1 John 1:5. What will be our response then in being exposed to God’s flood lamp of truth?