‘Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter.’ So ends the book of Ecclesiastes, as the wise teacher reflects on the mysteries of life and delivers the verdict. In many ways this first chapter of John’s first letter performs a similar role. St. John joins the dots for us and draws a very simple, but profound, conclusion.
There are only three nouns in the bible used to describe God which aren’t names, but rather define the essence of God’s being: God is love, God is Spirit and God is, you guessed it – light.
The clue was there right at the start – in the third verse of the bible, God declares over creation: ‘Let there be light.’ Thousands of years later, St John articulates why: God can call forth light because he possesses light within himself. God is light.
It follows, then, that when God comes to earth, the divine son can likewise declare: ‘I am the light of the world.’ And the darkness does not overcome it.
But the good news doesn’t end there. As Jesus’ followers are united with him in his death and resurrection, so we too become the light of the world – shining the good news of God’s love and truth to those around us.
So John’s advice to us is simple: walk in the light – the light of God, the light of the Son. As humans, we’ll always be tempted towards the darkness, and John acknowledges this openly. We all sin (v8), in other words we all do things that fall short of God’s glory. But God is faithful and just, and longs to forgive – indeed he will forgive (v9), that we might continue to walk in the light, in the path of God’s abundant, eternal life (v2).
And the ultimate purpose of it all? Union with God and with Jesus (v3). The word ‘fellowship’ is a bit weak, the original koinonia means ‘oneness’ – a deep sharing together.
So, as we draw this season ‘Looking for light’ to a close, let’s resolve again to walk in the light, to confess the darkness and see it healed, and to find renewed hope and expectation that God’s light continues to shine in our world. Amen, come Lord Jesus.