This week we began a new series, "Into the Light: A Study of 1 John." This Sunday, Kyle walked us through the first 7 verses, with an up-close look at the purpose of John's letter and how it relates to the idea of walking in light.
...that your joy may be complete...
John's letter focuses on two major themes: Christ's nature, and the assurance of the believer. These two themes go together -- when we know who Christ is, we can examine our own lives to see if we are living as Christ would and thus be assured of our standing before Him. Or to put it another way, right belief should lead to right living, and if one of those two areas is off-kilter, we need to set it straight. The purpose for understanding these ideas isn't just to be dogmatic. Instead, the goal is for believers to have fellowship with God and with each other, so that their "joy may be complete."
...so that you may have fellowship...
If the big goal of John's writing is to promote Christian fellowship, we better figure out what that means. The Greek word John uses for this idea is "koinonia," which has to do with sharing or holding something in common, and it leads us into community and participation with one another. This koinonia has 3 important attributes:
Fellowship is based in Jesus
The thing we hold in common -- both with Jesus and with each other -- is our righteousness through Christ. This common ground puts all of us on equal footing before God and gives us the same source of love, kindness, and shared Kingdom interests. Having fellowship with God is the central message of the gospel. Because of Christ's death and resurrection, we can have that fellowship with Christ our brother and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Fellowship involves both God and others
It can be tempting to think that if we just take care of fellowship with God or fellowship with others, we can leave the other one out. Some introverts may feel that their personal relationship with God is all that really matters and thus neglect forming community with other believers. Some extroverts may feed on the energy of fellowship with other Christians and neglect their inner connection with God. However, fellowship with both God and other Christians is essential to the health of either. And that means that both sets of relationships have to extend beyond Sunday morning, into the fabric of our everyday lives.
Fellowship involves walking in the light
John says, "If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin." Walking in darkness affects both our relationship with God and with one another, and it involves more than just sin. Walking in darkness is about living outside of the truth and character of God. If we know something to be true, yet persist in behaving as though it were false, we are walking in darkness. Now, we come back to the purpose of John's letter: if we know who Jesus is, we can live in the light of that knowledge and thus experience the joy of assurance in our faith.
Questions to Consider:
- How can I practice fellowship with other believers outside of Sunday morning church service?
- Am I neglecting either my relationship with God or with other believers? How can I tend to both?
- Does my life line up with what I know to be true about Jesus or am I stumbling around trying to live life according to other beliefs and ideas? How can I bring my life into alignment with the truth?