Church Matters (Part 2)

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Series: A Journey through 1 John

Sunday 5th June 2016 – Justus Swart

1 John 1:1-10; (Matt. 16:18); (1 Sam. 3:10); (Luke 22:42); (John 4:24); Matt. 5:14, 21-26; Heb. 4:13; (Matt.11:30); (Heb.10:31); Ps.101:1; (John 8:32); (Col. 3:2)

Many today ask the question of whether the Church is necessary for us to have faith in God? Outside the Church many people are saying, “What do I need God for? I have made it up to now on my own.
But by asking these questions it is easy to forget that we are actually the ones being questioned. Every day we are asked the question by God, “Are you willing to be of service?” Jesus is building His Church with or without you. The only real response we can give is, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10). In that same way we also hear Jesus saying, “Not my will Lord, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42).
In 1 John 1:5-10 there is so much conviction and clarity in John’s words. He gets straight to the point announcing that God is light. The book of 1 John says that God is both Light and Love. In the gospel of John he adds that God is Spirit (John 4:24). He is not saying that God has the quality of light. He is saying that everything else in the universe that has ever existed that has the quality of light derives from one singular source of pure light; that is God. The meaning of light would suggest to walk upright or righteously and to be completely pure; without any kind of darkness.
And light, by its very nature, exposes everything in darkness, which means that God exposes everything that we try and keep hidden. God has no problem calling sin by its rightful name. His very nature is light. When we come closer to God this light shines brighter and brighter into us and illuminates all things in our lives. Generally it is a very uncomfortable process. We usually enjoy being able to hide certain things and we become attached to the thoughts that we have. It could be pride, lust, or greed etc. We think as long as this is invisible to everybody else we are okay. Jesus shatters that kind of thinking in the Sermon on the Mount. He tells His disciples it is not just about what we are doing on the outside, but what is happening in your heart (Matt. 5:21-26).

When people come into faith, they are told that if they give their lives to Jesus He will take away their burdens. He will remove all the heaviness and difficulties, as if waving a magic wand over their lives. Actually quite contrary to that, giving your life to Jesus means that you now have to confront your own heart. You have to see your own heart for what it really is. We cannot get around the fact that God is light and cannot be fooled. The minute we come into faith the word declares to us, “You are the light of the world”, because we have received God whom is light and He takes up residence in us. We are now showing that same light to the world. We do not become light through our actions, we do not have light as a possession to use; we are light because He is light and because He lives in us (Matt. 5:14). This causes all of our neatly packed little secrets and colourful motives to be exposed. We become uncomfortable because suddenly the presence of light illuminates and brings hidden things to light. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).

He does not share His throne with anything else. Everything has to be taken down so that He can take that place in your life. It is not something for us to be discouraged about. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Jesus does say to us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). It is only true when we completely surrender to that. The minute we start to resist the light from shining in this area or that area, the burden does not become easy and light. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). You cannot share the space in your heart with God as He is not your roommate or flatmate. Once your own will has been put down that God’s light can shine through you. God is both light and love (Ps. 101:1). We worship a God who is completely loving; love like you have never known it before, but He is also completely and totally just. The Epistle of John states we have fellowship with God. John tells us the only way to maintain this fellowship is by continuing to walk in this light (1 John 1:7). How are we supposed to do that? Surely it does not mean by making one mistake it cuts us off from fellowship with God? How can we walk a blameless path when we know for a fact that no-one is perfect? Anyone who claims to be without sin is only deceiving himself.

Generally we walk to arrive at a desired destination, and the destination, according John, is fellowship with God. It is not a place you go to, but it is a state of being. In order for us to arrive at the place we want to be, we have to ensure that we have the right directions. Know what path you are on and where the path will eventually lead you. The directions will be different for everybody as we are coming from different places. It is not a prescriptive path. Everyone has a different path they take, yet always aiming for the same destination. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth (1 John 1:6). It is not something you can will into being. The only way to God is by walking in the light and by having the entirety of our lives laid bare before Him. For example:

• Our social lives: Who you spend your time with? God cares about your social life. You cannot expect to have fellowship with God when you ignore His principles and you ignore everything in the Bible. Social lives include gossip and slander, when you take a step in the wrong direction; you are taking a step out of the light.
• Our marriages: We cannot have a rocky marriage and not apply God’s principle to marriage and still expect to have fellowship with God. He talks a lot about marriage in the Bible, the principles and directions are in Scripture.
• Our finances: Two things Jesus spoke about the most were the kingdom and money. The reason being that money takes up a lot of our thinking, our stress and our pursuit in life. If your attitude towards money is not walking in the light, do not expect to have fellowship with God.
• Our thought life: What do you spend your time thinking about? The Bible says keep your mind on things from above (Col. 3:2).

Fellowship with God is achieved by walking in the light which means arranging your entire life according to God’s truth, the Bible. The one thing that keeps us from laying our lives bare is that we feel judged by other people. There is so much we keep locked up as we fear judgement. 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 (1 John 1:7). To walk as He is, in the light means we follow Him not other people. It takes one person to be honest to create atmosphere of honesty. We do not have to follow everybody else; we must be obedient and truthful about our own lives. Being truthful is a profound thing. We are not going sit around and blurt out our problems. Being able to confess to one another eliminates judgement. It is not asking us to live perfect lives but it is asking us to live openly towards Him. We should not try to hide our mistakes because at the end we burn out feeling frustrated.

Nobody is perfect. Only by me being truthful will I allow others to know who I am and have real fellowship with them. As long as I keep cool and keep a safe distance from everybody else, fellowship is interrupted by a thing called pride. We must eventually find each other in relationships, truthfully connecting to one another. When we connect truthfully to one another we can offer that helping hand without judgement. Offering a helping hand is often rejected because the other person does not want to seem as if they are in need. This is also pride and a form of resistance to real fellowship. We take offense as we have built so hard on the idea that we are doing okay. I cannot arrive at my destination just because I really want to; I have to know the way! My financial life, my marriage, my relationships with my friends, with my family, with my job; all is connected to my fellowship with God.

You may be asking, why coming to church does not seem to mean as much to you as everybody else? Firstly remember your direction is different to everybody else’s, you do not have to look or model your life according to other people’s lives. It will just create a cycle of unhappiness. You have to spend time in prayer, spend time with other Christians who can speak into your life. Other people keep us on track. There is no ‘cut-and-paste’ solution. Get connected to one another. Share your life with one another.