Isaiah 44:1-5, I John 1:1-10
May 3, 2015
Did you ever stub your toe in the dark? About four years ago I went into the bedroom, in the dark, and I stubbed my big toe on the ottoman! I hit it so hard I heard a cracking sound! Well, I got into bed and my toe was throbbing, and I couldn’t sleep. So I got up, and I went and got some ibuprophen. Well, I came back into the room, and… (you know what’s coming!) I stubbed my toe again! Same toe! Same ottoman! (We now refer to it as “the ottoman of death!”)
That’s what sometimes happens when we walk in the dark. We think, “Oh I’ll be alright. I know where everything is. I don’t need to turn on the light.” If our toes could speak, they’d tell us something different, wouldn’t they? “ Please, Please turn on the light!!!” You don’t know what it’s like for us down here! Our toes would disapprove of our walking in the dark, wouldn’t they!
So then, I’m asking today, where are you walking? In your life of faith – and I do hope we’re all living a life of faith! Maybe that shouldn’t go without saying. But in your life of faith, where are you walking? Are you walking in the darkness, or are you walking in the light? That’s what I want you to think about today.
In the Bible, there’s a rich tradition of the contrast between light and darkness. And some of the greatest of those contrasts are found in the writings of John. In the wonderful prologue of his Gospel, he said of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never conquered it.” Those are wonderful words about the light of Jesus Christ coming into a darkened world! (Our Christ Candle represents that light. Do you remember on Christmas Eve when it was the only candle burning in the darkened sanctuary?)
I want you to think about that today. I want you to think about your life. And ask yourself, do you have that light within you? Do you have the light of Christ in your life? Think about that. We all took the light from the Christ Candle, and spread it around the room. We all had that light in our hands. Do you have that light in your life? And then I want you to think about the reading for today. Because in his first letter, John picks up that theme again. And referring to that contrast between darkness and light, he talks about “walking in the darkness, and walking in the light.”
He wrote, “This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we do not live according to the truth. 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.” (I John 1:5-8)
In this season of Easter – and this still is the “season” of Easter – we’ve been talking about life as a “journey.” Well, this today is an even more focused look at that journey. This is not so much a question of the overall direction of our journey, but of how we are walking that journey each day? Yes, I hope you are thinking about where you’re going. I hope you’re growing in your ability to follow Jesus, and to do the things he would have you do along the way. But, are you walking in the light?
Does that make sense? This is not so much a matter of, “Do you know where you are going because you know Jesus?” It’s a matter of, “Are you walking with Jesus?” Do you see the difference? The difference is the relationship. In the first question, “Do you know where you are going because you know Jesus?” there isn’t necessarily a relationship with him. You may just have a desire to be “Christ-like,” to live by his principles, maybe talk to him from time to time. The second question is about the relationship. “Are you walking with Jesus?” That’s our goal. That’s what we strive for as Christians. That’s what it means to “walk in the light.” It is to be aware of his presence with us every day!
It’s too easy to be distracted from that, isn’t it? It’s too easy to not bother to turn on the light. “Hey we’re ok. We know where we’re going. “We don’t necessarily need that much guidance right now.” “We don’t need to turn on the light!” It’s as if we’re saying, “We can handle things.” “We’re self sufficient!” But more than that, sometimes it’s more a matter of. “We’d prefer to handle things!” “We would rather guide our own lives!” Then we walk around in the darkness, and often we “stub our ‘spiritual toes!’”
You see, “walking in the light,” walking around with God all the time, is not always a comfortable thought, is it? If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re not sure we want God to be around all the time. We’re not sure we want God to know everything about us! Well, let me clue you in on something. He already does! Sometimes we “don’t want the light on,” because we’re afraid the light will show up our flaws and our shortcomings. “If God is too near us, he’ll see that stuff.” Well, let me clue you in on something else. God already knows those things, too!
For me, that’s the “amazing” part of Grace! God knows us intimately – whether we want him to or not. He knows all our flaws and ugliness. And he loves us anyway! King David knew that. And he had his share of flaws and ugliness, didn’t he! Later in his life, he wrote these words in the 139th Psalm.
“Lord, you have searched me, and you know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it completely. (Psalm 139:1-4)
That’s a great Psalm to read in its entirety! It’s all about how God knows us intimately. And here’s the amazing part of all of this! He knows us intimately, and he wants us to know him intimately, too! He wants to be in that kind of a relationship with us. He wants to share our lives, every day. He wants to walk with us, every day. He wants us to live in his light. He wants us to walk in his light!
So, what do you think? There seems to be a lot of darkness around us these days. Sometimes I avoid watching the news because it’s so depressing. And we in our lives can have our own version of that darkness. But, the biggest part of that darkness is not the difficult circumstances of our lives, but the darkness of not having, or of avoiding, the light of God in our lives!
So my encouragement to you today is a simple one. Give some thought to “Walking in the light.” Make an effort to keep in mind the presence of God with you. Do things to keep that in your mind. The Jews put the little Mezuzahs on the sides of their doors for that very purpose. They put them there so they can think about God going with them throughout the day.
In those Mezuzahs is a little piece of scroll, or simply the first letters of the verse on that scroll. It’s the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. “Shema Yisrael! Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart. …And you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
That’s the Old Testament version of “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another… and with God.” God is with you. I have a little reminder on my desk. It’s just a simple piece of paper taped to the drawer right in front of me and it’s from Jeremiah 1:9. And it says “Be strong and of good courage, Do not be frightened, nor discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Make yourself little reminders like that. Put them on your desk, on your smart phone, on your refrigerators! I’m sure if the people of Israel had refrigerators, that’s where God would have told them to put their Mezuzahs! Give the “First 5” to God. That’s a growing movement, encouraging people to give the first 5 minutes to God every day. I like that! Do those things to remind you that you are “walking in the light” – every day!
Eternal God, help us to be aware of your presence every day. Help us to share our lives with you. Help us to walk in your light, and to be the light of the world, as Jesus called us to be. For we pray in his name, Amen.