The Light and the Dark
1 John 1:5-7 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 lie and do not practice the truth.
I tend to think in very black and white terms. I like concrete and I like uncomplicated. I tend to see the world this way, which of course, is often unhelpful. So, at first glance, I interpret this verse to say that if I walk with God, my behavior will belong to the light. Thus, if I am walking in the darkness, I do not belong to God, right? Suddenly, I am uncomfortable. What do I do with my destructive behavior? I am not yet perfect and I still fail. Does this mean I do not belong to God?
This of course, is the problem with my black and white thinking. I see extremes and I often read things that are not actually there. I have to go back and carefully ask what John is saying and what is he not saying. John actually does not say that if I participate in dark deeds that I am eternally lost. He does insist that I am not in fellowship with God when I am walking in dark deeds. This does not however, mean that I lose my salvation when I fall. John himself goes on to say (in the next verse) that we all sin.
I think John’s point is far more practical. I think he is insisting that in this flesh-life, I have a choice to daily walk in the light or to walk in the darkness. I am eternally saved, but when I purposefully stray from the light and engage in dark behaviors I know to be destructive, I am choosing to avoid God. I can and will cause destruction in the darkness, but the greatest loss I incur is the loss of light. I am not in fellowship with God when I choose darkness. When I choose to follow darkness, I choose not God.
In my black and white thinking, this is all or nothing. I see my dramatic past failures and see that I had little fellowship with God during that time. Now, as I am not addicted to any drugs, I am walking in the light, right? I am now made perfect. Wait, that’s not right…
John again, is less about drama and more about practicality. I think John would ask what I am still addicted to today. Food, pride, affirmation from others, money, toys? These may be smaller dark deeds than drugs, but they are not to be taken lightly. John says that when I tolerate even a little darkness, I damage my fellowship with God. I grieve or quench* his spirit in me when I follow self into the night.
The light and dark are not mutually compatible. When I engage in one, I diminish the other. If I am suffering in some defect or if I am anxious about my distance from God, it behooves me to ask what darkness I am tolerating. I like to think I can enjoy just a little darkness without hurting anything or anyone.
John says however, that I hurt me when I damage my fellowship with God by choosing darkness. Again, the light cannot coexist with the dark. How badly do I wish to walk in the light, free from my own darkness? This is where my black and white thinking can be helpful (my traits are not all defective). When I identify darkness, I need to be ruthless in eliminating it if I want to live in the light.
*(Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19)