2008-11-30 (am) John 1:1-5 The Light
The ninth plague that God struck the Egyptians with was darkness. There’s a bit of irony with that particular plague. The Egyptians were pantheists, they worshipped many gods. But they had a chief god, Ra, the sun god, or the god of light. When God covered all Egypt with darkness, He proved who truly is the god of light. He proved that the Egyptian sun god, Ra, was unable to penetrate the darkness that covered over all Egypt. Well all of Egypt except where the Israelites were. The Israelites still had light. In fact, he proved that there is no such thing as Ra. The Egyptians thought they were worshipping the light, they worshipped the god of the sun, which they could see.
The Israelites worshipped the true light, the light you cannot see, the light that made the sun and moon and stars. They worshipped the creator, not the creation.
We who have come to Christ are in the light. We’ve seen the light. We are no longer stumbling around in the darkness. The darkness that covered Egypt was thick. It was cloying. There was no escaping it. A candle couldn’t penetrate it. The sun couldn’t penetrate it. It was a darkness that could be felt. No one could see anything.
Some of you have been in the Cadomin Caves. You’re so far underground, that you turn off all the lights, you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. It’s like you’re nowhere, just suspended in space. You can’t even see the ground you’re standing on! There’s no point of reference. Without the light, you’d stumble around, get lost, get hurt and probably die.
But the Bible tells us that the darkness that covered Egypt was far worse. People couldn’t see anything, they couldn’t do anything, and they couldn’t even leave their homes.
The darkness that covered Egypt is like the darkness that covers the hearts, souls and minds of people who do not know Christ. Spiritually, they’re in darkness. They cannot see.
The most interesting thing about online blogging is that those who think of themselves as scientifically rationalistic claim to be most knowledgeable, most illuminated. They believe that they can see things so clearly. They say, “it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”
But in the same breath, they completely ignore the spiritual. They refuse to look beyond their faces. In looking at only what they can see with their eyes, they’re completely ignoring what can’t be seen with the eye, but which our hearts knows exists. They’re ignoring the spiritual.
Now, there are many others out there, actually numerically, the number of true atheists is very low. Most people are agnostic, they believe there’s a god or a higher power, but they claim that that god is unknowable. Sounds like a pretty lame god to me, if he’s unable to communicate with humans, who happen to be pretty good at communicating.
Then there are people who are actively seeking spirituality. There’s Oprah’s spirituality, Muslim spirituality, Hindu, Jehovah’s Witnesses, you name it. They want spirituality on their terms. They want to define their object of worship. They want to work their spirituality into their schedule. They want to do it to feel good about themselves. Or they want a defined set of rules and regulations, so that they don’t have to think at all, they just go through the motions and they get satisfaction from that. They’re religious.
But Christianity is vastly different. It is a relationship.
And that relationship starts with light.
What a difference! God comes to us with the truth. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
The Word is Jesus. He is eternal. He is from before the beginning. He is in fellowship with God. He is God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, in perfect harmony, in perfect love, in perfect unity.
Through Christ, God, created all things. Christ comes to us and tells us the truth. He shines the light of truth into the darkest regions of our hearts.
He says, “I made you. I know you. I love you. I want to be in relationship with you. I promise love to you. I promise true joy for you. You cannot find anyone else like me. Come to me; put your faith in me. Trust in me. I am who I say I am. I am truth. I am light. Move out from the darkness and see, really see.”
Now, when we come face to face with the Light of Christ, it is at first very painful. We all know what it is like to be in a dark room, or a dark movie theatre, and you step into a brightly lit room. It takes a little time for your eyes to adjust, to get used to the light. You squint, and eventually, your eyes get used to the light.
The same thing happens spiritually. Only, it is not as though we walk from the darkness into the light, instead, Jesus Christ, the light, comes to us. He shines his light all around. And it is bright; it is painful, for it shows everything.
How many of us would like to have all the images of all our sins displayed on the projector screen. Instead of the words of songs, we’d see images of our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. Up there, in plain view for all to see.
I know I wouldn’t want that. But really, what do I have to hide that you don’t also have, but maybe in a slightly different way? We all confess and know that there is no one perfect apart from Christ, so really, we aren’t fooling anyone. We have our masks on, but we all know that deep down, we’re no better than anyone else, in fact, we’re much worse.
But Christ comes to us, shines His exceedingly bright light all around us, illuminating every deep and dark corner, even the most nasty bits, and then says to us: “There’s nothing new or shocking here. The fruit of all this sin is death. But I love you. I took your death upon myself. I died for you. Trust in me. Come further into the light. Walk with me.
And what do we do? We glance around. We’re shocked by the sinfulness in our lives. We look back toward the darkness. It reaches out, like tendrils toward us. It wants us to go back to it. And a part of us like the darkness. We like to cover up the truth, but it really isn’t covered up at all. It is all there, but we choose to ignore it, and pretend that people can’t see it. We prefer our shallow relationships, our dissatisfying but oh so tempting sinful lives.
It takes great effort, Holy Spirit assisted effort, to turn back to Christ.
But not everyone does. Some come into the light, and then go back to the darkness. Some come to the light, but don’t go very deep. They try to play both sides. They’ll be in the light on Sundays, but run around in the dark the rest of the week.
This happens at times in my life. And it happens at times in your lives. You’re doing well on Sunday, but then on Monday, the temptations come. Your flesh desires things that God forbids. You take some steps. It always starts small, doesn’t it? Very rarely do we go from right living into wrong living. It is not as though we go from brightest light into deepest darkness in just a second.
No, first we turn our backs to the light. And that’s all well and good, because if you’ve ever tried to walk in a dark cave with just a lantern in your hand, you need to find just the right spot for the light to go. If the light is behind you, your shadow gets in the way. If the light is in front of you, then you can’t really see what’s beyond the light. So you have to have the light beside you so that you can see your way.
But what happens when we move toward temptation is that we put the light behind us, we turn our backs to it. And for a while we can see, but instead of moving with the light, we end up moving away from the light. And the darkness gets closer, gradually.
So, what does this look like?
Well, let’s take drinking as an example. Is drinking wrong? No, having an occasional drink, unless you’re an alcoholic, is harmless. If you’re an alcoholic, taking just one drink is like jumping into a deep, dark black hole. It is like going from light immediately into darkness.
So, hypothetically, you’re able to handle your alcohol. Even so, you have to take in your situation. Are you going to be able to stop at one drink? Will you be content with one, maybe two drinks spread out over an entire evening?
Will the people you’re with influence your decision making abilities. “Oh just have one more. Oh, just take this shot. One more, it won’t hurt. Everyone else is doing it. It won’t be fun if you’re the only sober person here! And then the next thing you know, you’re doing things you never dreamed you’d ever do in public, then someone whips out their cell phone and starts taking pictures, and by the next day, there’s pictures of your plastered self, plastered all over Facebook.
It starts so subtly, doesn’t it? Oh just one drink, it’ll help calm you down after a busy, long day of work. Lots of people do that. I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t really need to drink in order to feel better, to feel more relaxed, to enjoy myself, I just choose to do it, every time.
And yet, through it all, Jesus shines the light into the darkness, and no matter how hard it tries, the darkness cannot overcome it.
Jesus is more powerful. Jesus calls us back to the light. And back we come. Here we are. We’re in the church. The lights are on, even though it’s broad daylight outside. And yet, even in this room, even with all these lights on, and the natural light through the windows, there’s still shadows in the room, isn’t there?
And here we are, over half way through the sermon, we’ve confessed our sin already, but there’s still shadows all around, isn’t there. There’s still shadows in our hearts, isn’t there?
We don’t want to confess everything. We don’t want to confess to one another. That’s really putting us out in harm’s way. People can use that stuff against us. We could lose our jobs. We could lose our status in the church.
But what does that matter? Christ knows everything already. Compared to being perfectly right with God, what difference does it make if people use our confessions against us? What difference does it make if people think less highly of us? Doesn’t God’s opinion matter most? Who cares about status in the church? Such status is meaningless!
But without true honesty before Christ, as long as we try to cling onto some of our darkness, we won’t truly experience the light of Christ. We won’t truly experience His love. We won’t truly experience Joy. We won’t have peace, not with God, and not with each other. Because we keep thinking, we have to maintain our false positions. And they truly are false.
And without truly confessing, we’re going to be unprepared for the week to come.
For confession with the intention of sinning again is no confession at all.
We have to repent. We have to turn fully to the light. But it is not enough to turn toward the light. It is not enough to feel sorry. We must convert again to Christ.
We must turn fully to him, bask in his love, grace, forgiveness, and draw in His light.
It is more than just putting up walls that keep us from sinning, useful though that can be. We must deal with the heart, the core, the root of sin. We must begin a transformation from the inside out.
And that comes first from truly gazing into the light of Christ. By reading God’s Word, by hearing Sermons, by reading devotionals, commentaries and Christian literature, by having true fellowship with other Christians. By being held accountable to others, and letting others hold us accountable. In this, we come to see and appreciate the glory and light of Christ. We truly see; we truly experience the greatest satisfaction ever!
And, the light transforms us. We begin to reflect the light out toward others!
People see us, and they see how we live. They see that there’s more to us than rules and regulations, there’s eternal joy, everlasting contentment, and perfect peace! That’s the reward of being in Christ. And that’s the reward offered to us now. We can experience it now! Our privilege as Christians, says Beth Moore, is to reflect the splendour of Christ! We have the privilege of not only seeing the glory and the light of Christ, but we get to share in that glory! We get to pour out that glory onto others. Consider your life. Are you reflecting the splendour of Christ onto others?
Let us stop dabbling in the darkness. Let us walk in the light of Christ. In fact, the light of Christ is even better than having a lantern at our side. The light of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, comes within us. The light then shines out of us. And it shows us the way to go! Let us trust the light! Live for the light! Get out, and stay out of the darkness! Appreciate what we have in Christ! Stop listening to the world! Stop obeying your flesh! Walk in the light, as He is in the light, for He is the light! Amen.