Summer Sonshine 1- The Good LIght of God
MESSAGE: “The Good Light of God” July 7th, 2019 at Harbor Church
1 John 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) The Word of Life
1 We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— 3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.
God Is Light
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Today we begin a new worship theme for the season. We’re calling it Summer SONshine (that’s “S-O-N Shine”) What I hope to do with you over the next couple of months is various ways in which the light of God can illuminate our lives and lead us to a fuller experience of God’s truth as we trust the Lord to bring about enlightenment. I also hope that we will use this time as an opportunity to trust God to reveal to us any areas of our lives as individuals and as a church where we may need to look for growth or change.
Now As I began to reflect on different aspects of light, I was reminded of the deep theological question:
HOW MANY BAPTISTS does it take to change a light bulb?
Change? Who said anything about change?
But we aren’t the only church on the island that needs more light in our lives-
Do you know HOW MANY CATHOLICS does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They still use candles.
Dare I ask: How many Episcopalians does it take?
Two. One to change to bulb, one to pour the wine while they discuss the best way to go about it.
And finally, do you know HOW MANY MEMBERS OF A CHURCH THAT IS OVER 200 YEARS OLD it takes to change a light bulb?
TEN. One to actually change the bulb, and nine others to say how much they really liked the old one.
Our opening meditation says that when God, the author of all things created light, he said that it was good. We only need to think about the contrast between light and darkness for a moment to be reminded of just how true this is.
Ever since prehistoric times, darkness has been a source of fear, danger, or uncertainty. Can you imagine the profound ways in which the lives of our earliest ancestors were effected when they discovered how to harness the power of fire and of light? The discovery of fire in the Stone Age, or, more precisely, the controlled use of fire, was one of humankind's first and greatest innovations. Fire allows us to produce light and heat, to cook plants and animals, to clear forests for planting, to heat-treat stone for making stone tools, to keep predator animals away, and to bake clay for ceramic pots and other objects. It has social purposes as well. Fires also served as gathering places, as beacons for those away from camp, and as spaces for special activities. Fire and light brought warmth and protection, new ways to prepare food for basic sustenance, and even increased opportunities for community to develop around the light of a campfire even after the sun had set and darkness had descended and night had come. Can you imagine the many ways in which their lives were transformed? Can you imagine the joy and gladness of heart that resulted? This is the type of impact that the apostle John was striving to express when he spoke about the life and light of God. He wrote that the 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[b] In this light was the life of all humankind, and he went on to say, We are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.
In so many ways similar to the blessings that physical light brought to our ancestors, the light of God brings life and blessings to all who seek him.
The light of God is good. It comes to us in many different ways: through the Scripture, through God’s presence, through prayer, good works, and through our relationships with others. My hope is that we will discover in the days ahead, that as we earnestly strive to let this light shine into our lives in every-increasing ways, we will experience a fullness of joy in our hearts that causes them to overflow with goodness.
Light is bright, almost by definition, and sometimes it is too much for us. We go to the beach on a perfectly sunny day, and we cover up because the sunlight is too intense – we lather up with sunscreen, put our dark glasses on, and put on cover-ups as soon as we get out of the water so we don’t get burned. Light is used as a metaphor for many things in the Bible, first and foremost to describe the presence and essence of God. The Scriptures tell us that Lord dwells in unapproachable light. Moses hid behind a rock when God first appeared to him at the burning bush so that the glory of the Lord wouldn’t overwhelm him. When The prophets of old received their revelations and got a glimpse of God that said things like:, "Whoa, how am I still even alive ,because I am an unholy man and my eyes have seen the glory of a perfectly holy God! Malachi the last prophet recorded in the Old Testament exclaimed who can stand before the presence of God, because his light is like a refiner’s fire, burning away everything that is not good.
This is our experience as well. If we are honest with ourselves, Sometimes we are more comfortable living outside of the direct Son light of Jesus and his truth. The light of God is too bright, sometimes, for our comfort. Sometimes if reveals things to us about ourselves and the world around us that we would rather not see. So, We prefer to chill in the shade safe under our beach umbrellas, with our pina coladas and our sunglasses on. The light reveals our flaws, or our pet sins, or our shady behaviors that we would rather not examine to closely lest we be convicted of them and convinced that it is time to change some of them. But if we linger outside of the light too long, we can fool ourselves, in our second reading the apostle John doesn’t mince words, he says we say that we walk in the light but still live in the darkness we lie to ourselves and the truth is not in us. Here is a great danger to the Christian who would walk in the light. Denial and self-deception can tell us that our lives are ok the way that they are, that we’re reasonably happy, that we are getting by just fine. But This type of thinking is precisely what keeps us in the dark, settling for less than the abundant life that the Lord wants each of us to experience by living fully in His light.
John says, you and I know better. We have experienced God’s light, and we know that it is good. God’s truth and life have been revealed to us: we have heard about it, we have seen with our eyes, we have looked at it and touched with our own hands, and we know the fullness that it promises. But to experience that fulness we need to examine ourselves regularly, to take personal inventory and admit to God areas of our lives that are not right with Him, and then ask Him to let his light shine in and show us a better way. This is the simplicity of confession, and with it comes a freedom to experience all the joy and abundance that living our lives in the light of God can bring. This can be our spiritual Independence Day: free from darkness that diminishes us, and at liberty to fully follow Jesus and walk in his life.
I think that Our lives can be like a bag lunch or a banquet feast - it’s up to us to decide what we really want. Bologna and cheese on white bread with chips is basic nourishment that will keep us going, no question about it. But wouldn’t you rather go to the Steak Fry at the Firehouse?! That was an amazing meal, wasn’t it! But it took an effort to get there- we had to fight our way through the crowds, maybe walk halfway across town in the heat, and it cost more for that meal, but wasn’t it worth it? God wants us to have the banquet – the Lord wants us to have more than we sometimes settle for-
Can you imagine more for your life?
John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine” raised a protest against the way that religious people, including we Christians, have fallen short of living as light in this world. He sang, “Imagine there’s no heaven; its easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.” I think he wrote that song because he didn’t see enough of God’s light shining through the religious people in this world. And so we need to ask ourselves, as followers of Jesus, does the way that we live our lives diminish the light in the world, or does it cause it to shine more brightly.
When we use the word ‘imagine’ in English, it often connotes something that’s not really real. So we say: “Oh, that’s just your imagination; you’re imagining that.” By contrast, when God inspires our imaginations, it is an invitation to experience more of God’s light, to give ourselves more and more to the Lord and His ways, to become a part of the way that God moves our imaginations to reality. Imagine you are a child again, sitting on your heavenly Father’s lap. As you look up into God’s face, his countenance shines upon you, and when you get up your face is shining as well. Take that glow with you out into the world for others to see.
A Hindu trader in India once asked a missionary, "What do you
put on your face to make it shine?" With surprise the man of God
answered, "I don't put anything on it!" His questioner began to lose
patience and said emphatically, "Yes, you do!" All of you who believe
in Jesus seem to have it. I've seen it in the towns of Agra and
Surat, and even in the city of Bombay." Suddenly the Christian
understood, and his face glowed even more as he said, "Now I know what
you mean, and I will tell you the secret. It's not something we put
on from the outside but something that comes from within. It's the
reflection of the light of God in our hearts.
My hope and prayer for us this summer is that we will increasingly walk in the good light of God. That we will allow the Lord to reveal to us ways in which we can change for the better, that we can walk in freedom apart from the darkness of sin. My prayer is that as a result others will see the light of God shining in and through us. And may we all experience more of the fullness of joy of the Lord that living in the good light of God can bring.