“And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 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, purifies us from all sin.” (John 1:3b-7)
A Christian who learns God’s Word but never shares it with others is like a hot dog with mustard and ketchup but no bun, or a party with your four best friends but only three are there. John who knew the joy of the Word of our Lord also knew that part of that joy was to share it with others. “We write this (to you) to make our joy complete.” Because who wants an incomplete joy?
Now, the message John wanted to share with others is, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
Chapter 1–Light Comes Through the Word
God is light. God is like the sun. And God is trying to shine his light onto you. How? Through words, his words. That’s how his Spirit does it. Words of forgiveness in Christ. Words that have the power to have water wash away your sin and bread and wine be the body and blood of Jesus who died for you. Words that actually lock the doors of hell and unlock the doors of heaven because of Christ. Words that have the power to raise your body from the dead and glorify it, because of Christ’s own resurrection. His Words are how he shines light on us. Words! That’s why when Jesus was baptized, of all the thing God could have said, what did he say, “This is my Son whom I love. LISTEN TO HIM!” Because that’s what you do with words, listen to them. And on the Mount of Transfiguration, of all the things God could have said at that moment, what did he say? “This is my Son whom I love. LISTEN TO T HIM!” He used a present tense verb there. Which is to say, listen regularly, faithfully to his Word and Sacraments.
Now, if “God is light,” then there must be darkness. Where is the darkness?
Chapter 2—Where The Darkness Is
Now, if “God is light,” then there must be darkness. Where is the darkness?
Is it in the violent video games? No. Is it in the overly sexualized shows? No. Is it in the LGBT agenda? No. Is it in the fifth of Jack Daniels sitting on your shelf at home? No.
Then where is it? Where is the darkness? The darkness is in you, and me. And in the people of the LGBT community. And your grandma. And your grandchildren. And your friends. And it’s a darkness that leads to everything bad, and ultimately, into the utter darkness of hell. Which should give us an idea of how seriously bad this kind of darkness is.
But our Lord does not want anyone in that kind of darkness. God wants to shine the light of his Word into each sinner’s ears and heart. And that’s where you and I fit in. Because he wants to us to be his partners in shining the light of his Word into the darkness of people’s hearts. After that, that’s how you defeat darkness, right, with light? For what is darkness but the absence of light?
Now, the light of our Lord’s Word creates a connection between a sinner and God. A connection that John describes as “fellowship.”
Chapter 3–Light Creates An Astounding Fellowship with God
“And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” And fellowship is a fancy way of saying that you have something in common, something you share. What do we sinners share with God?
We share with him death, and he shares life with us. We share with him sin, and he shares with us forgiveness in Christ. We share with him our weakness, and he shares with us his strength. We share with him our uncertainties, and he shares with us rock-solid truth. We share with him our smallness, and he shares with us his somebodyness. As one of our hymns puts it, “He serves that I a lord may be—a great exchange indeed! Could Jesus’ love do more for me, to help me in my need, to help me in my need?” (CW #41v.5) And the greatest one of all–we share with him our cold, dark grave, and he shares with us his beautiful resurrection from the grave and the warm, shining life everlasting. And he can share that, for he won it for us by his own death on the cross and resurrection as we celebrate these seven weeks. What an astounding fellowship—not so much for God, but for us! But that is how he wants it. For ours is a God who gives. That’s what he does.
Ah, but the darkness does not give up. And what’s even worse, it has a partner.
Chapter 4—The Darkness and the Fog
The darkness does not roll over and play dead. And what’s even worse, it has a partner—the Fog. Because, while the darkness is in our own hearts, violent video games and overly sexualized shows can act like a fog, flowing into us, swirling around our hearts. So can commercials that can encourage discontent and a marketplace that can encourage greed and technology that can encourage isolationism and songs that can encourage sin and sports that can encourage ego and schools that can encourage a man-centered view of life instead of a Christ-centered view–they are like a dark fog that keep flowing at us, every day, swirling thick around our hearts, trying to keep the light of God’s Word from penetrating into our attitudes and our actions and our courage.
And so, it can happen, as John writes, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”
This is the daily evidence that the darkness is still in us. Because every day we do things that shows there is a disconnect between what we know we should do and what we actually do, is that not true. Now, there are three kinds of darkness inside of us, and each is deadly in its own way. The first is called “self-indulgence”, which is the darkness’ way of saying, “Thanks, Jesus for the forgiveness, because I mean to go back home and keep on indulging in sinful behavior.” Is that kind of darkness in you? Watch out, give in to it even once and it will destroy your faith. For sin is to be struggled against (even if you lose the struggle—it is important to struggle). The second is called “sinful pride”, which is the darkness’ way of saying, “Thanks, Jesus for the forgiveness, but I’m not like most people, I only need a little bit of forgiveness.” Is that kind of darkness in you? Let us be honest with ourselves. The third is called “despair,” which is the darkness’ way of saying, “Life is hopeless. I have too much sin for Jesus to forgive. I might as well give up.” Now I don’t have to ask you if that is in you, for it is in us all. Moments when despair jumps up and grabs you by the throat, even makes you contemplate ending it all, doesn’t it; who of us has not thought of that at one time or another?
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” The darkness never gives up trying to push the light of God’s Word out of your heart. And so our Lord does not give up on telling us to keep listening to his Word.
Chapter 5–The More the Light, the Less the Darkness
Light chases the dark away, and light makes things grow. For if God is like the sun, than we are like the moon. We are born into this world like a new moon, completely in the dark. But God shines the light of his Word on us, maybe for you it happened at your baptism when he washed away your sins and adopted you into his family and brought you to faith. And you were like one of those moons that are just a sliver in the sky.
Our Lord intends to have you grow, to being a crescent moon, then a quarter moon, then one of the most beautiful sights in the night sky, a full moon. Not only for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others as well. Because the moon does not generate its own light, does it. It only reflects the light of the sun. As our Lord wants us to reflect the light of the Word of his own Son. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
In reflecting this to others, we will know what John knew—the unique kind of joy that comes when you share his Word with others—with the others here as you join this church, as you sing hymns, with others at home when you talk about what worship was about and about the Bible, or as you leave here and look up before you walk out of the glass doors and are reminded, “You are now entering the mission field.” Because hot dogs are best with mustard, ketchup and a bun; and when it comes to a party of your best friends, it’s best to have them all together. “We write this (to you) to make our joy complete.” Amen.