I’ve been reading 1 John wrong my whole life, and I hope you have too, because the Word is going to blow your mind here. Here’s what I used to think when I read 1 John 1:7.
“Walk in the light.” I’m supposed to walk in the light. Am I walking in the light? I want to walk in the light: following God’s will, making good choices, watching out for potholes in my path or things that trip me up, the “sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1). I want to “run with endurance” and all that (Heb. 12:1). But I don’t. How can I find a way to do God’s will better so I can be counted among those “walking in the light?”
Have you read it this way? We’ve gotten it all wrong! Listen to it again:
I’ve been reading 1 John wrong my whole life . . .
“Walk in the light,” as in “walk in the light of day.” As in “things look different by the light of day.” Things look different. I look different. It’s a bright, full-spectrum, all-illuminating kind of light. And what do I look like when I creep out of the shadows and into the bright light of day? Well, I look a lot like something that has just crept out of the shadows and into the bright light of day.
Nothing can hide when He shines on me. He knows it all; He sees it all. And in this spotlight, I see it all, too. When it shines on you, what do you see? Think about it. What do you do that you don’t want them to know? What do you think about that you’d rather not admit? That’s a whole lot of ugly. And I can pretend that what I do and what I think aren’t really all that bad. It isn’t really sin. But only if I stay in the dark. Only if I keep the light away. Like the little kid that covers his eyes and says, “You can’t see me!” maybe I can hide all that ugliness by pretending the light can’t get to me.
Let me get personal. I could pretend I don’t have an eating disorder. I could pretend it isn’t largely responsible for my mood swings and fits of temper. I could pretend it doesn’t affect every relationship I have in one way or another. I could pretend there’s nothing fallen about the way I eat. But what do I need to do to keep pretending like this? I have to stay in the dark. I have to close my eyes. Quite literally.
He knows it all; He sees it all. And in this spotlight, I see it all, too.
My disorder has taken a serious physical toll on me. In order to avoid this reality, I have to turn my eyes away from the mirror (I mean the actual mirror). I have to close my eyes to the facts. If I don’t look, the light can never reveal the truth to me. Maybe I’ll forget. If I can’t see it, I can deny it. So I stand alone, in the dark, pretending the light can’t get to me. Like the little kid with her hands over her eyes, “You can’t see me!”
So why am I being called into the light of day? So God can yell, “Gotcha! Caught you with your hand in the cookie jar!” (ok, maybe the literal cookie jar…)? No, God does not accuse in order to condemn.
So, what other reason could there be? Am I called into the light to right my wrongs, to turn over a new leaf, to try harder and harder and harder to do things God’s way? If that’s what God wants, He’s a demon, crouched ready to pounce and tear me to pieces. No, God may be a lion, but he’s no devil.
. . . I stand alone, in the dark, pretending the light can’t get to me. Like the little kid with her hands over her eyes, “You can’t see me!”
So what is the reason!? In the darkness I can continue to imagine forever that there’s nothing wrong with me. That I’m perfectly healthy and don’t need any kind of attention. But in the light, I see just how badly I’m really hurt. How badly I need the attention of a Divine Physician who can cut out my spiritual tumor and set my broken spiritual bones.
So who are the ones “walking in the light?” They’re the ones who are not pretending anymore. They’re the ones who aren’t hiding from their suicidal sin-sickness anymore. They’ve uncovered their eyes. They see that they need the Great Physician, and they see the Great Advocate pleading on their behalf.
It’s terrifying to lie on the operating table. The lights of the surgical theatre expose everything. But you’d be a fool to try to hide your tumor from the Great Surgeon who wields a scalpel and, alone, has the know-how to cut your cancer out. You’d be a fool to wriggle off the table and flee from the light just to pretend you don’t have a tumor. Surgery hurts. I bet resuscitation hurts too. The sharpness of new breath into long-dead lungs. The stabbing light into eyes shut tight against the truth. But after that comes life in the light! Living the way we were meant to. No more hiding behind our hands.