1 John 1: 1-7
The last few months have been tumultuous in the life of the nation as we see the unravelling of the post-war golden age of capitalism. When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, the miseries and deprivations of wartime Britain remained fresh in the memory, and yet there was also a sense of hope of a better future to come. In the 70 years since then, those hopes have been more than fulfilled and the vast majority have known only rising living standards.
True, there have been crises, and numerous localised wars in far off places, but there has been peace in Europe, unimaginable advances in medicine, and a dramatically rising life expectancy. Compared to our forebears, we live like kings, and most of us alive today have only known stable and prosperous times – but those comfortable expectations are being shattered by events, as we move, seemingly helplessly, into a much more troubled, darker world.
The first letter of John was written towards the end of the first century CE and resembles the fourth gospel in style. Its purpose was to combat false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community. It affirms the fundamental truth that God was fully incarnate in a man, and that true Christian faith exists only in the context of the historical revelation and sacrifice of Christ, using the metaphor of the contrast between light and darkness, and that knowledge of God and love for one another are inseparable.
It is too easy to equate our experience of everyday living to godliness and to see God’s favour in material prosperity. In doing so we lose sight of the truth that in union with Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, even in our imperfection and regardless of our material circumstances, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God and that we walk in the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, not the false glitter of the world, what one hymn writer called its fading pomp and show.
Walk in the light: so shalt thou know that fellowship of love
his Spirit only can bestow, who reigns in light above.
Walk in the light: and thou shalt own thy darkness passed away,
because that light has on thee shone in which is perfect day.
Walk in the light: and thine shalt be no thornless path, but bright;
for God, by grace, shall dwell in thee, and God himself is light.
(Richard Barton, Hymns & Psalms 464)