27 December 2013

1 John 2:3-11

“Whoever says, ‘I am in the light’, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.” (v. 9)


Today, the Feast of John the Evangelist, John writes of the heart of the good news and the implications of it. When God dwells in us we become more God-like. Our creation is in God's image, our salvation a restoration of what was first intended. John is painfully clear. Evidence of 'knowing God' is obedience to God. Those that lay claim to knowledge but are disobedient are described simply as liars. Now there is clearly much behind this passage. Gnosticism was a philosophy in which knowledge of God was an almost 'occult concern'. It was hidden from most people and was given by God to a few. To have such an indwelling of God was clearly something that gave you status and authority within a community. But how could you tell it was of God? John is wary of Gnosticism though it may sound a little like Christianity. We may get a sense of that wariness, for today people claim to be super-spiritual and like John we might wonder, 'how do you know that they aren't making it up?' They may tell of amazing gifts of the Spirit, or have many letters after their names indicating years of hard work and study, but how do we know they know God? John's answer is simple. If you really know God, God dwells in you, and then you are more like God.

In this passage there is something of a challenge and something of a wonderful promise. The challenge is clearly 'walk the talk'. Christianity isn't about the capacity to believe "six impossible things before breakfast" (as Lewis Caroll might express it), it is to inhabit a story that means living life very differently. But the promise is there too. God can dwell in us. We can know, as John Wesley taught and Charles Wesley sung, 'and feel our sins forgiven'. God can be real to us, and in allowing God space in our lives, we begin to be transformed into God's likeness - the acid test is the wonderful promise as we become part of a light to lighten the world.

To Ponder

  • Where do you see God's light in your life? And where would you like that light to shine more brightly?
  • To what extent do you "know and feel" (as Charles Wesley put it) God's healing and forgiving power?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.