January 27th, 2023 - Living in the Light

Living in the Light

 As we close out another work week let slow down. In the busyness and chaos of life we are constantly bombarded with noise. It is so important to slow down and remove distractions.

So take a moment. Close your eyes. Breath in and out. As you breath in think about what you need from the Lord. As you breath out release whatever is on your mind to him.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit we ask you to come now. As we read a potentially challenging word from you this morning, let us hear your voice and invitation and then have the courage to do what you have called us to do. 

This week we’ve been focusing on the importance of community and relationships. As the body of Christ, we are called to unity through love for one another. This is how the world will know that we are followers of Christ. There should be something different about our relationships, our gatherings, and the way which we treat others. For those following the way of the world, the way we live should, at the very least, cause some head scratching as they think “Hmm, that’s different.”
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 
1 John 2:9

Throughout 1 John, we are told to walk in the light. Walking in the light, put simply, means following the commands and practices given by Jesus. John writes that 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 (v 1:7). If we walk in the light, keeping Jesus’s command of loving one another, we have fellowship with one another. We need fellowship with others. We are not meant to be alone. There is a richness and fullness in our relationship with God that cannot be achieved without community. To be okay as a human is first and foremost about being connected to others. Without Godly community, we come up empty in spirit, short of the abundant life that Jesus promised.
In prayer we share our thoughts, motives, and emotions with God. God designed us to have that same connection with other believers. The two should build upon and reflect the other. Dane Ortlund writes,
Often our idolatrous pursuits through sexual immorality, overindulgence in alcohol, or social media platform-building are all simply misplaced longings for human fellowship. If we traced those heart-eroding pursuits down to their source, we would find, among other things, simply an absence of real Christian fellowship.
Honest fellowship allows us to experience the grace and love of God more truly. As I share my life in community - good, bad, and ugly - the promises of God become felt realities rather than just believed theories. I don’t just believe I am loved and forgiven, I feel loved and forgiven.
It’s very simple, but it is not easy. First, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We collapse into transparency. If you think that sounds terrifying, you’re in good company. The fear of losing human connection, ironically, is what prevents most of us from establishing more than a few meaningful relationships through our entire life. Hiding our shame and difficulties ends up reinforcing, rather than resolving, our fear of being “found out”.
Real human connection doesn’t happen without vulnerability. Support groups like Celebrate Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous understand these principles. Complete strangers form powerful bonds at astonishing speed because they fear what will happen if they don’t change more than they fear being judged by others. But you don’t have to be at a rock bottom to realize the benefit of authentic, honest connection. Just trust others enough to be yourself. Not only does your vulnerability nourish your soul through genuine relationships, it encourages others to share their story and own their narrative. Your vulnerability may open the presence of God to another and allow for greater relationship with him. In his book The Soul of Shame, Dr. Curt Thompson wrote,
Vulnerability is the state we must pass through in order to deepen our connection with God and others… Telling the truth about our lives evokes curiosity and consideration in others about their own brokenness.
Jesus’s way is one of vulnerability. It stands in stark contrast to the way of our culture: me-first, look out for number one, dependence is weakness, etc. The enemy would love nothing more than for us to believe that we should be able to work out our problems on our own. He is, after all, the father of lies.
Vulnerability opens the door to spiritual growth by trusting others to see us as we are. Accountability gives us the motivation to walk through the door and continue moving forward. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). Sin is like mold. In the darkness, it festers and spreads. Walking in the light, alongside others, sin withers and dies. Following James 5:16, we consistently confess our sins and pray for one another so we may be healed. The healing occurs through community. Over time, there is an ever-greater alignment of who we say we are with who we know ourselves to actually be. Our spirit relaxes within secure relationships. We begin to sincerely enjoy other people.
Are you vulnerable in your relationships? Do you trust a fellow believer to share your suffering? When you wander off the path, is there someone who would know to come looking? Is God placing someone on your heart that needs you to go looking for them? When it comes to biblical community, remember, we are a family. Amidst the celebrations and the struggles, I am your keeper. You are my keeper.
God’s invitation usually comes with a challenge. God invites all of us to follow Jesus’s example and walk in the light; to join Him and each other in deep, life-giving community. The challenge is to trust Him and trust each other enough that we allow ourselves to be truly known.
Walk together. Share books. Watch the game. Play X-box. Get brunch. Volunteer in the community. Golf, fish, crochet, workout. Whatever your thing is, do it together. Eat a meal. Grab a coffee. Talk about your week. Sit around a fire. Join a small group. Listen to each other. Be vulnerable when the opportunity comes and love on others when they have the courage to do the same. They are trusting you with the dark and delicate recesses of their soul.  
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me as I truly am. Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me the immense love and spiritual strength found in vulnerability. I want to walk in the light. Help me push past my pride, past the lonely illusion of having it all together. Strip me of anything that is not anchored to you. I trust you to guide me into loving fellowship with my brothers and sisters. Amen.