Meditations in 1 John : 16 : Light & Darkness
1 John 2:9-11 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
John has a tendency to write like the waves on the seashore! A wave comes in – he covers a particular thing – and then goes out, but then shortly it comes back in again – and he uses the same language again. Three times in chapter 1 and now three times in chapter 2 John speaks of light.
His starting point had been, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all,” (1:5) but then he had applied it to our lives: “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.” (v.7)
Back in his Gospel John recorded Jesus as saying, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (Jn 3:19-21)
He seems to use ‘light’ as good or goodness, purity, holiness. Thus it becomes, “God is good … if we walk in his goodness as he is good… we have fellowship” and “God’s goodness came into the world (in the form of Jesus) but men loved bad things rather than goodness …. Everyone who does evil hates goodness and does not come under the spotlight of goodness for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into God’s goodness so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” i.e. when we come to God His goodness permeates our lives and reveals Him through us. That’s what we saw in the previous meditations.
If we hadn’t got the message clearly the first time, John now presses the point home: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” i.e. if you purport to have come to Christ and are now a Christian, but hate your brother then it is obvious that you are not living in God’s goodness but are allowing evil to remain in you.
To emphasise it even more, John looks at it from the positive side: “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” Love is an expression of goodness and so if instead you love your brother you are revealing goodness. One of the things about goodness is that it helps us walk firmly and not be brought down by temptation or sin. While we remain in God’s goodness, living it out, there is no room for bad to creep in and so we will not stumble and fall.
But then he bounces back to the negative again: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” Blinded by darkness? That’s an interesting analogy, but a true one! A person who has allowed hatred for his brother to either remain or take a hold in their life, is not living in goodness but in bad, and when we are living in the bad, it is genuinely like darkness and we lose our way and can’t see where we are going and simply stumble around. We normally speak about being blinded by a bright light, but of course darkness blinds us because in the dark you cannot see. If we allow bad into our lives it brings darkness and in that darkness we start to lose focus, lose awareness, lose sense of purpose and direction.
Now here is the tricky thing: how many of us have allowed something to either remain in our lives after we came to Christ, or allowed something into our lives since we came to Christ, that actually constitutes ‘darkness’? Remember ‘darkness’ is simply wrong, any wrong. John’s example of wrong, is hating your brother. Literal brother or spiritual brother or brother in humanity? It doesn’t matter. If we have something against a family member, or something against a member of the church, or prejudice against groups within humanity, we have allowed darkness in! But here’s the other tricky thing: if we have allowed darkness to reside in us, have we realized that we are, at least, partially blind? What can’t we see because we are in darkness in this area, at least, in our lives? Well obviously that the attitude that we hold is wrong, and we are blind to that, but to what else might we be blind? How much does the modern church ‘fail to see’ because we tolerate darkness in our lives? It bears serious thought!