|THE LIGHT OF FELLOWSHIP
1 JOHN 1:5-2:2
Series: The Fellowship Of The King - Part Two
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
January 9, 2005
Please turn with me to 1 John 1 - starting at verse 5.
Last Sunday we began looking at fellowship. Fellowship being more than just having a relationship with someone. Fellowship is much deeper. Fellowship means experiencing life in Christ. Relationship puts us into the family of God. But, fellowship permits the life of that family to shine through us. Relationship means that all God has is potentially ours. But fellowship means we’re actually drawing upon that source. Relationship is our possessing God. Fellowship is God possessing us.
That depth of fellowship touches every part of our lives - physical - mental - spiritual. It transcends every socio-economic cultural geographic boundary. It transcends our human limitations. Its a depth of knowing of each other that God desires for us and that only God can create in us.
It’s the “oneness” that Jesus prays for in John 17: “That they - us - may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us...” (John 17:21)
Having said all of that - would you agree with me that we crave that depth of fellowship? And would you also agree with me that we often fall short of that kind of fellowship?
Today we want to look at three hindrances to fellowship - three attitudes on our part that get in the way - that destroy fellowship. We also want to look at what we can do about these hindrances - to get past them - to move forward in fellowship together.
1 John 1:5 is John’s introduction to this section. If you’re there, let’s read this verse out loud together. Verse 5: This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
God is the light of fellowship. We need to understand that.
Any textbook will tell us that the speed at which light travels through a vacuum is about 186,000 miles per second. According to Albert Einstein, nothing can travel faster than light. However, in the last few years scientist have been doing experiments where they’ve been able to get pulses of light to travel faster than the normal speed of light. This is Star Trek stuff.
In one of these experiments - a pulse of light travels through a chamber filled with cesium gas - and the pulse seems to go 300 times faster than the normal speed of light. That’s so fast that the main part of the pulse exits the chamber even before it enters the chamber. Ponder that. But not too long. (2)
We use light to measure distance - we speak of “light years” as the time it takes to travel tremendous distances through space. We use lasers to measure or survey slightly shorter distances here on earth. We use those laser leveler things to make a straight line across our walls to hang pictures.
Light is an exacting standard.
God is light. He is the standard of being without sin - of holiness - purity. He’s the standard of fellowship. What true fellowship is and what it takes to have that fellowship. What - when we're measured against - we fall short of.
John is emphatic about God being light. In verse 5 he adds this statement: “in Him there is no darkness at all.”
One of the characteristics of light is something we’re enjoying right now. Turn to the person next to you and tell them, “I can see you.”
Ray Stedman shares about the time he visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. He was driving alone from Texas to Southern California and on the way picked up two high school boys who were hitch-hiking. On the spur of the moment the three of them decided to drive up and see the Grand Canyon.
It was about ten-thirty at night when they made their decision. They were traveling with limited funds. Didn’t have money to stay in a motel. But they did have sleeping bags. So they decided to drive into the park - find a place to sleep - and see the canyon the next day.
Long after midnight they arrived at the park. Not knowing where the canyon was they found a wide spot in the road - pulled over - took out their sleeping bags - walked a few feet into the trees - threw the bags down and went to sleep.
Ray Stedman says, “When we awoke in the morning the sun was high. I woke first, rolled over, and to my astonishment found that I had been sleeping within arm’s length of the edge of the canyon. If I had rolled over in my sleep I would have fallen over the edge of a 500-foot precipice.” (1)
Darkness conceals. Light reveals.
That shining of God’s light into our hearts is crucial for fellowship. To show us where we fall short of God’s standard - where we stumble and the things we struggle with as we strive towards fellowship.
The hindrances to fellowship that John shares - come as we resist God’s light shining into our lives.
The first hindrance to fellowship is Choosing to ignore God’s light. Try that together, “We choose to ignore God’s light.”
Verse 6: If we say - that’s how John introduces each of these hindrances - If we say - if we try to convince ourselves or others - that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness - if God’s light hasn’t penetrated into our heart - exposing and dealing with sin - if God isn’t at work changing who we are - we lie and do not practice the truth - we’re being dishonest with ourselves - with others - with God.
A man - or woman - says that they know Jesus. Maybe they do. Maybe they’ve been a Christian for years. Done all the Christian stuff - come to church - gone to Bible study - been involved in some ministry - given money - all the stuff Christians are suppose to do.
What happens when the light gets turned off? Darkness. That’s all it takes. A simple flick of the switch. We’re still connected to PG&E. But in the dark.
What John is talking about here is the possibility of being a Christian - doing the Christian thing - and yet living in darkness by turning God off.
God’s light is continually seeking to penetrate into our hearts. Sometimes that penetration gets too close to home.
Sometimes we feel uncomfortable with what goes on at church - the preaching or teaching offends us. Or, the worship. Or, someone says something that offends us. And yet - through that offense - God might actually be trying to show us something about ourselves that needs change - growth. Some Christians stop coming to church - blaming others - rather than allowing God to work in their lives.
As we come to a church - over time we become more known by others - issues come up - inner struggles may become exposed. Rather than letting God work in our hearts we move on to someplace more comfortable - often a place where we can hide in the crowd. Often blaming people in the previous church for the reason they moved on. Christians are constantly moving from church to church avoiding God.
Christians stop reading the Bible. They hear verses read. But they’re content with the way they are. Even in a Bible study group - we can share ideas about Scripture but never ask ourselves the deeper questions, “Am I really living the way God wants me to live? Am I growing? Or just living a lifestyle?”
I read that Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t the parts of Scripture that I don’t understand that bother me. It’s the parts I do.”
In most homes - congregations - in our lives - there are problems that exist but we never openly speak about. Relationships that are broken with no hope of restoration - tensions - concerns - burdens - fears - insecurities. We hide behind walls of small talk - reputations - position.
In the same way, there are sins that we continually struggle with. Patterns of sin that continue to trap us. Things that we’ve done they weigh us down with guilt. Sin that damages our fellowship with others. We all struggle with these things. But, we’re hesitant to even to look at them or deal with them.
The remedy is to allow God’s light to examine our hearts.
Verse 7: but - rather than trying to turn off the light - if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light - let God examine our hearts - we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
That’s scary stuff. Like taking a 1,000 foot dive into a thimble of water. Major potential for hurt.
John writes, “When we walk in the light - when we expose ourselves to God like that - it’s the blood of Jesus that cleanses us.”
We need that reminder. Share that with the person next to you. “Its the blood of Jesus - that cleanses us.”
God’s already gone to extreme for us - to the cross. With that kind of love - that extreme - we know that God isn’t going to say jump and at the last second move the thimble. He’s got His arms open wide to catch us. God’s going to take care of us.
But we’ve got to step off the diving board. To open our hearts up to God for inspection.
Try praying this - trusting God - and if you really mean it in your heart: “God, I’m all Yours. God show me the stuff in my life that must be changed. Show me where I fall short of You. God change me. Whatever it takes. Change me.”
The second hindrance comes in verse 8. Choosing to deny our need for God’s light. Try that together, “Choosing to deny our need for God’s light.”
Verse 8: If we say - if we claim - that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us - we miss out on fellowship with God.
So many people today will say that sin is really doesn’t exist. Sin is in the mind. What really is the problem is how we think about ourselves and the world around us.
Welcome to post-modernism and the New Age. Welcome to the First Church of Christ, Scientist and whole lot of other cults and religions.
A young woman was having a discussion with some other women about the effects of prenatal influences on a child. Some of the ladies told some pretty strange stories about how when they were carrying their babies things affected the child. Like one lady who said that she had seen a red fire engine and the baby was born with a red blotch on the forehead.
The young woman listened to this for a while and then said, “I don’t believe any of this. My mother told me that before I was born she dropped a whole pile of records and broke every one. But, it didn't affect me - affect me - affect me.”
In a CD world that’s kind of dated. Be glad they weren’t 8 Tracks.
Sometimes as Christians we think we’ve progressed. That sin doesn’t hold power over us like it does with others. We’re saved. We’re filled with the Spirit. We’ve been living for Jesus for so long. We’re mature Christians. We don’t need all this examination stuff.
I’m not prejudiced. I’ve got convictions. He’s got the bad temper. I have righteous-indignation. Its not me its my wife. Its not me its my husband. My boss messed up. Its my teacher’s fault. The pastor’s an idiot. Its their fault the church is the way it is.
Paul writes - 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Do you remember the emperor with no clothes? Deluded himself into thinking he had a fine suit of clothes made of the finest most expensive material - parading around before the whole kingdom in his birthday suit.
Deny sin and we allow Satan to get in an use our own pride against us and destroy fellowship.
The remedy is to agree with God that we need His light. That’s humbling.
Verse 9: If we confess our sins - “con” which means “with.” “Fess” means “to say.” If we con-fess - say with God - agree that we’re sinners - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Sin happens. So should confession. When we get off of our own righteousness - stop thinking more highly of ourselves that we ought to think - individually and together God will heal our relationships and our fellowship with each other.
Got sin. Need Jesus. You all take the “got sin” part and you all take the “need Jesus” part.
“Got sin.” “Need Jesus”
First - we need to allow God’s to examine our hearts. Second - we need to agree that we need that examination. That’s humbling.
Third hindrance: Choosing to excuse our sin. Try that, “Choosing to excuse our sin.”
Verse 10: If we say that we have not sinned - if we’re in denial about our own sin - we make Him - God - out to be - a liar and His word is not in us - again, no fellowship.
Hindrances one and two are easy. “Okay, I need to let God examine my heart. I agree that there’s sin there.” Verse 10 is harder. “Okay, there’s sin there. But, it really isn’t that bad. I can deal with it.”
“Christians aren’t perfect - just forgiven. Nobody’s perfect. God won’t mind. My life isn’t really all that bad. This is just a weakness - a habit. Its not like I’m a mass murderer.”
Are we sinners or not? Either God’s a liar or we’re sinners. Which is it?
God is honest with us. Regardless of the little excuses we make for our thoughts - attitudes - actions - this is serious. Sin - unexposed to light - its like mold. You all have mold growing in your bathroom? You don’t need to answer that. It just grows until its out of control. It hides beneath the surface waiting to flare out.
Sin is never just “our own little struggle” - easily rationalized away. Our sin always affects others. In the church - sin leads to fratricide. Keeps us from fellowship with God and each other. That’s why John calls us back to the fundamental issue of our honesty about our sin.
The remedy is God taking action against our sin.
1 John 2:1: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins - and we all do - be honest - this is serious - no excuses - if anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father - a lawyer pleading our case before the throne of God - Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sin - the means by which our sin are forgiven - His blood poured out on the cross pleads for the forgiveness of our sins - and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Make excuses for sin - rationalize it - justify it - and we remove the ground out from below the foundation of Jesus’ work on the cross.
John writes that Jesus is the means by which our sins are forgiven. If its a sin - He died on the cross for that sin. His blood has been shed - His body broken - He’s dealt with it. If we confess it - its forgiven. What would happen if we took every sin and laid it at the foot of the cross of Jesus - left it there - and walked away.
John reminds us that Jesus died for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. That’s everyone here - an beyond. How easy it is to make excuses for our sinful attitudes towards others - to be indignant and righteous.
Imagine if we as a church - as husbands and wives - and children and parents - as people - would take the garbage of our lives - the burdens - the struggles - the guilt - the bitterness - the anger - the injustice - the things that we as siblings in Christ have done to each other - whatever’s holding us back - whether its our fault - our sin - or not - and lay it at the foot of the cross. Jesus died for the people involved. Leave it there and let Him deal with the people and circumstances involved.
The point is to stop making excuses for our sin and our attitudes that keep us from fellowship and experiencing God’s power and working in our lives.
The possibility exists for us to have true fellowship with God and with each other. Not just a formal - polished - churchy - type of relationship. But the kind of true intimacy that we all crave. The intimacy we cannot achieve on our own. That God - through Jesus Christ - makes possible for us.
We have choices. Ignore God - deny our sin - make excuses. Cover up and keep going. Or, we could be honest. Why not let God do His work - take action - in our hearts?
Real intimacy with God begins when we give God control over our lives. It begins when we receive what God offers to us in Jesus - agreeing with God about our sin - accepting His forgiveness - giving Him control to lead us forward in life.
indicated, Scripture taken from the New American
Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962,
1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the
Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.