Enduring Being Revealed
"This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 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 the Son cleanses us from all sin." - 1 John 1:5-7
What does it mean to walk in the darkness? What do we experience when we walk in the light? Instead of seeing this metaphor as commentary on “being bad” or “being good”, I propose that we take it seriously and think it through literally. When we are in the darkness, we simply can’t see very well, and we cannot be seen. Sometimes we go there because we are scared and are feeling vulnerable or ashamed. This is not necessarily a problem; sometimes we need a break from harsh and judgmental dynamics.
However, when we stay in the dark (rather than going there for a particular purpose) we start to conform to the dark. We start believing that we do not need to change or grow, and we stop offering grace to ourselves or others. Only when we are ready and able to admit that we are still in process can we truly offer honest forgiveness and encouragement to others. Jesus does not ask us to be perfect; actually He asks us to be quite the opposite. He asks us to be flawed. More specifically, He asks us to be honest with ourselves about our incompleteness and our dependence on God.
“Purity culture” is a concept that describes social systems that demand perfection, control, and strict penalties for transgression. Purity culture is a common perversion of the Gospel, seeking to set the purveyor of this system as the authority for what a “good Christian” is. This person wants power and control, not relationship with God and their siblings. Walking in the light is a response to purity culture, a response that ultimately undermines it.
Growth requires a willingness to let go of that which does not serve the whole. Standing in the light requires a willingness to have those things revealed. Researcher and professor Brené Brown teaches that shame gets its power from staying in the shadows. The way to rescind its power is to reveal it so that we can heal it. When we make mistakes and double-down on them, hide or ignore them, or point the finger at others, it creates an additional weight we have to carry. When we shed light on them, we allow grace to enter into the internal conversation.
So the real question is, what in our lives are we keeping in the dark? What mistakes, inabilities, incompetencies, or harms are we still unwilling to face? And what are we waiting for before we are willing to trust in the grace of God? God heals what we reveal. It’s time to get honest about our pain, our failures, and our prejudices. It’s time to grow in our endurance for standing in the light. It’s time to trust we are loved no matter what.
In peace, Pastor Andrew