Updated: Jun 10, 2020
1 John 2:3-11
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
I remember when I was little and my parents would send me down to the basement to get something out of the fruit cellar. Now, to paint the picture: the house I lived in when I was a young kid was old. My parents had fixed up the house but there is only so much you can do for a basement the floods whenever it rains. It was dank, cramped, and boy was it dark. The fruit cellar was in absolute darkness. My parents sent me down there when I was four to get a can of corn? It was terrifying. It might as well have been a dungeon. We have a natural dislike for the dark. We all do. Yes, most of us as we get older become more used to the dark. We don’t need our parents to check under our beds anymore. At least I don’t. Nightlights become something we use so we don’t break our toes in the dark hallway. We can walk across a dark basement to get to the light switch. We can sit on the dark porch and look into the night. But it comes right down to it we still prefer to avoid the dark. When we are walking at night we try to stick close to light sources. When the power goes out everyone huddles close around candles or lanterns or battery powered lamps. When you go camping and need to make that dark walk through the woods to the bathroom, the person with the flashlight is king. We like sources of light, because light chases away the darkness. It reveals what’s hidden and shows us the safe places to go. Even if we aren’t afraid of the dark, it makes us uncomfortable. And God knows this. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Or how about when Jesus teaches the people: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Beautiful! Those passages mean so much because they express how God answers our fears. He is the light! He is our safety!
But the people of this world have a problem. Even though we have this natural dislike for darkness the world can’t get enough of it. What proof do we have? Just look at how well this world hates. “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them.” (1 John 2:11) For a world that thinks it’s so enlightened and so understanding there is a lot of hate. And people love to be in the middle of the hate. They call people who disagree with them bigots and fascists. We have the representatives of our country hurling insults. Their supporters take to social media to call for a war on anyone who disagrees. One country is at the throat of another country. Instead of listening to the other side, we insist that they must be wrong because their lips are moving. It’s an “us versus them” kind of world. And I am told that I must hate them. The people of this world pat ourselves on the back. We claim we have achieved so much, know so much, are so enlightened. But to be honest, it’s floundering around in the dark.
The world sits in darkness while God shines his light to all people. He wants everyone to see the brightness of his coming. And here we are, Christians who know his light. But we have our own issues. We know all about his forgiveness but we can’t forgive others who hurt us. Someone yells at us so we yell back. They push us so we push back. Someone hurts me so I want to hurt them more. Old arguments never really go away. Old mistakes are brought up just to score points and to make ourselves feel better. Here we are, Christians who know the love of God; so much of our time is spent in anger, hate, revenge, gossip. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in darkness…anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do no know where they are going, because the darkness had blinded them.” (1 John 2:3, 9, 11) God has shown us his light, but so often we act like we still live in darkness. We prefer hatred to love and choose revenge over forgiveness. Does that seem right to you? But isn’t this us, so very often? When is the last time you let your anger get the best of you? When is the last time that you spoke unloving words? When is the last time you thought some pretty unkind things about the people in your life? Why do we struggle with this? Because we are, by nature, creatures of the darkness. We are sinners. And sin wants to lead us away from the Light.
But there is good news. Great news. Even while we were lost in darkness of hate Jesus walked in the light for us. He promised that he would bring that light to the world. “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:1a, 2) He came into the world to drive out the darkness of sin and to shine the light of his love and forgiveness to all people. When temptation came to him Jesus refused. When he could have destroyed us for our sins, he chose to forgive. When he was beaten and battered and hung on the cross, he could have gotten even. But he chose to love us enough to die for us. And then he rose again so that his followers wouldn’t have to wonder and worry. He revealed himself to them, and not only to them but to all people. Jesus continues to shine on the world through his powerful Word. His light shines on us. Despite our sins of anger. Despite our failure to forgive. Jesus speaks to you: your sins are forgiven. My love is powerful enough, my mercy is big enough. I have called you out of darkness and into my wonderful light. We are forgiven for our sins of darkness. Jesus has called you. “Come , follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)
We no longer walk in darkness. We walk in his light. Saved, redeemed, and loved, we now have a purpose. We want to walk in his light because we know what he has done for us. We want to be in his glorious presence and to stay away from the darkness because we know that the darkness has nothing to give us but death. We want to live for him and do the things of the light. Not for praise. Not for attention. But because we want to bring glory to the one who came into the world with the light of Salvation. We want to honor him and follow him in his brightness. Go, walk in the light. Show who our Savior is. “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing to make them stumble.” (1 John 2:3, 7-8, 10) When people show anger or hatred towards you, respond with love and mercy. When they hurt you. Forgive. Why should we be fighting with our fellow believers? Why hang onto anger? Why do we have to prove that we are right? Instead of hating, let’s show love. Love to our families. Love to our friends. Be different from this world of darkness because you aren’t part of it anymore. You walk in the light of Jesus who has called you to share his light with the world. Knowing his forgiveness for us let’s follow Jesus’ command of love. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” (1 John 2:3) We walk in his light. Amen.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.