The Fractious Nature of Light
“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.” I Jn. 1:7
Light is a standard by which God expresses His nature. Repeatedly we are told, “God is light…the Father of lights…. He is in the light….I am the light of the world.”
Before light illumines the way to positive truth however, it first exposes darkness. Before it heals and makes whole out of darkness, it challenges what is built on darkness. Before it brings unity out of chaos, it brings division and chaos in its exposure of darkness.
Light unavoidably shows what is not and ought not to be in process of showing what is and ought to be. This is the fractious nature of light. And it is the nature of who Christ is to each of us as we encounter and grow in the reality of His eternal life, which is “the light of men.”
As we follow the eternal light Christ has placed within us, we in turn become to others what He has first become to us. Before our lives express light as it has been revealed to us and in us, they expose darkness in others nearby who have not seen that light. This exposure may not be by word at all. It may only be by our presence. But it is inevitable.
Similarly, before we find unity and healing with others over the light in us, we find division and the challenging of relationship. Instead of agreement, we find we must go a way that someone else cannot go with us, or vice versa.
It is impossible that—as “children of light”—it should be any other way for us among us all.
As we read I John 1:7 with its promised fellowship, our belief is immediately in light only as an illuminator of truth upon which instantaneous unity is built and wholeness of relationship developed in those who believe with us. We see light only for its wholesome property. And we expect therefore that if we “walk in the light as He is in the light,” all should automatically go well for us relationally in the body of Christ. That is, we should straightway “have fellowship with one another.”
Thus when out of our pursuit of His inner light we find instead clashes over interpersonal darknesses, fractures of spiritual relationship and repeated misunderstandings, we can only conclude that there is something “wrong” with us.
But this is not necessarily so. Relational fractures don’t necessarily prove something is wrong with us, though it could be so depending on the attitude we adopt over the contortions due to walking in the light. If out of such clashes we assume attitudes of unforgiveness, bitterness, suspicion and self-fulfilling cynical expectations of brokenness, then something indeed becomes wrong with us. But at the point of such attitudes, we are no longer walking in the light either.
The reality remains however that to live in the light as He is in the light usually has a negative downside on us and others before it has the positive upside we always associate with the thought of light. (And as we walk in increasing prophetic dimensions of light, these downsides become the more painfully pronounced in experience.) But the encounter of that downside is not of itself evidence that we have failed to walk in the light as He is in the light.
In between these phrases—“If we walk in the light as He is in the light” and “we have fellowship with one another”—is an untold story of division over the exposure of errors and unworthy attitudes that first produce relational fracture that will require healing. There is not a direct line between the two; and the resulting “fellowship” spoken of is one of unspoken repair and restoration over brokenness due to the unavoidable effects of walking in the light with respect to others.
That this is so is intimated by the phrase immediately following: “and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” This word tells us that somewhere in this journey between walking in light and obtaining fellowship, a need for cleansing from sin arises that is unavoidably evoked in the process. Perhaps if this phrase had been inserted between the first two, this might have been clearer—“If we walk in the light as He is in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin; and we [then] have fellowship with one another.” But the Holy Spirit wrote it as He intended it to be.
Realization of the fractious temperament of light sheds further “greater light” on the Lord’s supreme command to us,
“This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you….By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”
As we do with light, so we do with love. What we commonly read into this exhortation is that as disciples we should all live “in sweetness and light” with one another, so that when everyone else sees our “love fests,” they will know we are His disciples.
May I suggest something quite different? May I suggest that the real proof of our mutual love is not in our superficial demonstration of Sunday love fests, but in how we handle the fractures that result from daily walking in the light apposite to one another. May I suggest that our love is demonstrated not by a romantic “unblemished” unity, but rather by how we deal with the inevitable divisions eventuating from truth encounters out of which God intends to bring forth restored unity.
In other words, the visible unity may or may not be there among us yet. But that is not the proof of our love for one another which all men are to see. We may be—and often are—in the various stages of unhealed brokenness of relationship due to walking in divergent light. But it is in our charitable handling of such brokenness that men see our love for one another. It is in our careful redemptive speaking of those from whom we are separated that demonstrates our love—our refusal to rail, to backbite, to whisper in secret about those of the same faith who have otherwise rejected a certain light by which we walk, or who have oppositely offended us by their walk which we may not understand before God—until the time of restoration comes.
In this regard, we could therefore also speak of the fractious nature of love itself.
“Our God is a consuming fire…..Who may abide in the day of His coming?”
These words do not only describe our God as He sits in heaven. They describe the nature of our God as we bear Him within our own bosoms. The prophets testified to the consuming fiery nature of the word they carried in their hearts. These were the words of light for their day—and they produced what all light produces—exposure of darkness, burning of flesh, and resulting separations, relational chaos and rejections—until the Holy Spirit should bring about in His time healing restorations upon new, higher platforms of that same living light, yielding the fully manifested harmonious love which we all idealize.
Believe it or not, this is the truth about the light by which we live and the fellowship that results from it. And it is the one and only true way of love.
“You are the light of the world….You are light in the Lord.”
Ponder anew the deep implications of these statements for your relationships. And if you are prone to feel condemned because the first effects of walking in the light lead others of the same faith to believe you are really walking in darkness,
New Meadow Neck, R.I.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
Page created December 27, 2014