“If we walk in the light as God himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”
— 1 John 1:7 (NRSV)
Out of a very black-and-white letter, that is the First Epistle of John, we find the starkest of introductions: God is Light. This light of God is not couched in a worldly sense. This light is the holiness of God as it finds itself comprehensively separated and other-than anything the world knows.
There could not be anything further apart in classification or definition than God and the world; and, though God has created the world, the world ran from God seeking to be its own god, and therefore has run into the darkness.
The opportunity for the Christian is restoration to that unworldly conception—to the reality of life governed by Light, holy and sanctified, due true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the Christian is admonished; it is as clear as the distinction between night and day who abides in God and who does not.
To make the harshest of rationalisations, the believer who believes, but is not in fellowship, is an anachronism in the faith. We cannot truly worship God and be in extraneous and problematic conflict with fellow believers. The light of God does not work this way in our lives. The light of God compels us to have fellowship with one another.
We Cannot Have It Both Ways
We cannot reap the benefits of being in the light whilst remaining in darkness.
Light and darkness, spiritually speaking, cannot coexist with an affinity of acceptable unity.
Perhaps this was the apostle’s intent throughout his letter, in being so vociferously all-or-nothing in his approach. We all know it is a rule of life, regarding the way life works, and has always worked, that we cannot have everything our own way.
It is a mark of Christian maturity that we can reap the blessings of God, and, at the same time, learn to accept many things we cannot change about other people.
When we can accept that the key sign of the light of God in our lives is healthy relationships, as far as we are concerned, we understand the fundamental principle of faith. God never designed our faith to be an independent thing; independent of human relationships. Faith is exercised in the midst of the rub and messiness of fellowship.
The light of God rests in us to the apportionment of our ability to wrestle with ourselves in the context of our relationships. Where there is conflict we battle it out with the Lord—“What in me needs to change or adapt, Jesus?”
The key sign of the light of God in our lives is how we get on with other people. If our fellowship is strained we may struggle in the darkness, whereas where we negotiate conflict, achieving reconciliation, the light of God shines in and through us.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.