“The good news that we heard from Jesus and are passing on to you, is that God is light and there’s absolutely no darkness in him” (1 John 1:5).
It’s good to remember that the Greek word translated “gospel” (euangelio) means “good (eu) news (angelio).” When you hear it a sense of wellbeing floods over you. Let’s say that your house back home wasn’t caught in the big fire, or that your son managed to make it onto the football team – that’s good news! It’s a lot better than learning that your house did go up in flames and that your son was too skinny!
The message that Christ died for our sins and all that God expects of you is to accept it by faith, is really good news! And that is the message that John learned from Jesus and is now encouraging his readers to give to others who have not as yet heard. Hear–then–tell is the best program for worldwide evangelization. When people who have experienced the joy of hearing and believing tell it to others, God’s Spirit takes over the process and the hearing and telling sequence continues.
I’ve described the good news in Pauline terms of justification by faith: John says it more simply, “God is light!” Apart from him the world lies in darkness – the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of an unknown future, the darkness of living with a deep inner desire for something sensed by all but experienced only by those of faith. They say that darkness has no real substance, but is merely the absence of light. It “exists” only because there is no light there. When God, who is light, enters the picture, darkness ceases to “exist.” Think of conversion as a room of total darkness suddenly becoming filled with light. The darkness disappears because it cannot coexist with light.
What I’d like to stress is the dramatic difference between light and darkness. One hides, the other exposes; one is sinister, the other exhilarating; one is the habitat of evil, the other the glorious presence of God. People stumble in darkness; they walk in light. Darkness is the miserable abode of evil, light the throne room of deity. When John declares that God is light he is saying that in His presence you will come to see and understand truth.
The grand old story of redemption is the tale of man having lived in light, was lured into darkness, then by the sacrifice of God’s Son enabled to step out of darkness into light. And what happened in history can and does happen in the lives of those who, discouraged by darkness, accept the invitation and enter the room of eternal light.
One might say, “That all sounds good in theory but even though I stepped into light I find myself stumbling in darkness from time to time.” That’s right, but sanctification (the transformation from darkness to light) is not instantaneous. Perhaps it’s because we can stand only so much light at a given period. A flashlight in the face on a camping trip is blinding but nothing compared with the brighter light of the midday sun. And so it is with Christian growth. When we opened our heart to Christ it was filled with the light of His presence. We couldn’t take any more at the moment, but with the passing of time and our growth in grace we are enabled at each new period to enjoy an ever more brilliant new light.
So thank you John for reminding us of the transforming truth that God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. May our lives be increasingly bright with the active presence of God filling us with light, that is, with Himself.