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 cleanses us from all sin.
— 1 John 1:7
We feasted on this verse at our men’s discipleship group meeting last night. There is much to be nourished by here. One connection we do not often make is how “walking in the light” is connected to “having fellowship with one another.” But the connection is this: if we are not willing to step into the truth of confession, repentance, faithfulness, and the humility all that entails, no one can be in a real relationship with the real us. The less we are in the light, the less the true us is known. Whole relationships carry on in the dark sometimes, especially in churches, where everyone is in relationship with everybody’s projected version of themselves, with facades.
Here is Ray Ortlund on this passage from his great little book The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ:
A heart aloof from God grows aloof from others. It engages in merciless comparisons and endless faultfinding. Therefore, all restoration begins by going back to God first, prodigals that we are.
The wonderful thing is that, when we lose our way, God is not hard to find again. He has made himself very findable. He is “in the light” — right out there in the place of truth, honesty, openness, confession, and owning up. God himself awaits us there. We sinners can go to him freely through the cross of Christ. There in the light, but only in the light, everything gets better in our relationships with one another too.
The price we pay is to face ourselves. That is humiliating and painful. It’s why we shun the light. There are episodes in our past that we don’t want to think about — harsh words, acts of betrayal, broken promises, and worse. We shove these memories down into the darkness of our excuses and blame-shifting. We refuse to call sin “sin.” We feel too threatened by what we have done even to admit it to ourselves, much less confess it to others. But those places of deepest shame are where the Lord Jesus loves us the most tenderly. Is there any reason not to walk in his light together, where we recover fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin?
It is so refreshing to come back out into the light of honesty again, where we first met the Lord. It is there that ex-friends can be regained by love. It is there that Jesus is glorified in the eyes of the world.
Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.