"5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But 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 sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." -1 John 1:5-10
I think one of my favorite things about the liturgy in the Lutheran church is when we admit that if we claim to be without sin, we're deceiving ourselves... and that if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just will forgive us and cleanse us.
Here John lays it on the line, "Hey," he kind of says, "if you think you're perfect and that you don't need Jesus, you're fooling yourself."
Martin Luther knew he found a profound truth when he discovered Romans 3:23, where Paul tells us that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ALL. No matter how smart, how old, how wealthy, how important or powerful. Everyone gets selfish and short-sighted sometime. No matter how young and seemingly innocent, no matter how gentle or well intentioned- every single human being on Earth has thought, said, or did something that damages their relationships with God and with others. We all try to be our own gods.
Once we admit that and get it out in the open, we can move on without pretense and pretending. We're all equal at the foot of the cross, we share our vulnerability and guilt. It's like the way addicts humbly approach their brothers and sisters at an Alcoholic's Anonymous (AA) meeting- "Hi, I'm John, and I'm an alcoholic..." then they can share their story, questions, concerns, ideas, or opinions.
John is saying that once we own up to our responsibilities- "Hi, I'm Ted, and I'm a sinner..." we are able to move on and learn and grow and share together.
Notice what else John said? I emphasized parts of the verse above by making them bold.
In the Gospel of John, John 1:1-14 John first refers to Jesus as the light. Jesus calls Himself the light of the world in John 8:12 and 9:5. When a converted believer says "I have SEEN the LIGHT!" That doesn't just mean that they see the errors of their ways or are enlightened, it means that they have encountered the God that loves them in a real and personal way.
John tells us that if we come into the light- if we stop hiding and burying our heads in the sand but come and walk and talk with Jesus, He will accept us, in fact, He will forgive us and clean us from the wrong we've done and the mistakes we've been carrying around.
We don't have to be like vile cockroaches or disease-ridden vermin that scatter when someone turns on the light. We can be safe and comfortable with Him and He will help us to become safe and comfortable with each other.
We can be in meaningful community with God and each other. Like recovering alcoholics who feel most comfortable and least judged, most able to be sincere and vulnerable with their sponsor and their fellow AA members- we can have deep and powerful relationships with God and with other believers.
And guess what? It's a lot easier to see things as they really are- and to walk around while avoiding obstacles and injuries when you're in the light.
So open up God's Word, set a side some prayer time to spend with Him, and for cryin' out loud, go to that youth group meeting, that Bible study, that fellowship or that church service and see what it's like to connect in a meaningful way with other sinners.
Know what? The more time you spend with "the Light" (Jesus) the more you'll start to reflect His personality, the more like Him your character will become. It's called reflecting His glory. Remember what the band Smashmouth says, "You'll never shine if you don't glow!"
Me ka pule,