Have you ever tried to walk on an unfamiliar path when it is dark? I can tell you from experience that it isn’t easy. Over the years I have enjoyed hillwalking (hiking, as others might refer to it). Sometimes we might set out a bit later than planned, or perhaps underestimated the time it would take us to complete the day’s walk. As the sun set we would still be on the hill. Descending a hill in the dark on a rough, unfamiliar path can be difficult. It always helped to carry a torch (flashlight), in our backpacks to use if we ended up being out after sunset. The light would illuminate the path.
This is the same condition we find ourselves spiritually when we are without light. Notice how this is described by the apostle John.
“This is the announcement which we have heard from him, and we are proclaiming to you: God is light, and no darkness is in him at all! If we say that we have fellowship with him, while we are walking in darkness, we are lying, and we are not practicing 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 keeps on cleansing us from every sin.” (1 John 1:5-7 McCord)
Spiritually we have a light and it is God himself. God illuminates our path of life – in fact, he is the only one who can illuminate it. With God as our light we do not have to worry about darkness because God knows nothing of darkness. There is no darkness in him at all. If we are with God we have the light to see as we walk through life.
It isn’t enough to ‘say’ we have God with us. Anyone can claim anything, but claiming it doesn’t make it true. We can claim we are following God all we want but if we really aren’t our lives are still in darkness and we are stumbling around. We need to truly have God with us in life.
Notice how John described this: “we have fellowship with him”. The idea of fellowship is that of both parties participating together. To have fellowship with God means that he is part of our lives. We are working and living with him.
When we have fellowship with God because we are living by his light two things happen. The first is that it gives us fellowship with each other. We are no longer alone. We are surrounded by others who have the same goals, the same aspirations, who are trying to live the same lives in God’s light as we are. That can be a great encouragement to keep us “walking in the light”.
The second is that Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse us of our sin. We often think of the cleansing of Jesus’ blood when we become a Christian, but we realise that we continually need this. Living in fellowship with God means that when we sin Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse us. What a blessing we have in walking with God!
Over the years as I have walked up the hills and mountains in Scotland I have mainly walked with other people who also enjoy hillwalking, although occasionally I have gone out on my own. What is the difference? When I am on my own if the path gets difficult I may decide to turn around and go back. But if I am with others, when the going gets tough we encourage each other and as a result we are able to complete the walk we had planned. Sometimes there are obstacles that make the path difficult. When I am with someone else it is easier to work out the best route around the obstacle.
As we walk in God’s light we need others around us to help us keep going. And we need Jesus’ continually cleansing blood to keep us free from sin. Walk in the light!
Photo by Jon Galloway: ascent of Ben Arthur, May 2005.
Readings for next week: 1 John 1-5; 2 John; 3 John; John 1
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