During my Army basic training experience, we were required to march, in full gear with forty pounds on our backs, on unleveled ground for ten miles. We began in the early morning while it was still dark. I was training in Oklahoma during the beginning of winter, so the cold weather was something I had to adjust to. I remember my fingers feeling numb and struggling to keep myself warm until the sun began to shine and share its heat.
We were led by two drill sergeants who each had a light that allowed them to see about three to five feet in front of them. As we marched in files, all two hundred of us were forced to trust the paths of the ones in front of us. There were winding roads, jagged rocks, ditches, hills and occasionally some soft sand during our march. After rolling my ankle several times I managed to position myself in the front, just behind one of the drill sergeants so that I could see from his light. I was no longer limited in my vision by the darkness of the early morning. I was then able to see where to step and where not to step which improved my confidence and strengthened my stride.
In the book of first John, we are told that walking in the light of salvation results in living a life that reflects the nature of our heavenly Father. Below is verse seven from several different bible versions for clarity:
King James Bible 1 John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Amplified Bible 1 John 1:7
“But if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].”
New Living Translation 1 John 1:7
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
Notice that the writer states “…if we walk in the light…”. This shows that we have a choice. What is the light? It is easy to define the light as the truth, but I think we should spend more effort exploring this. After all, it’s possible that four people could have five different understandings of what truth is. Two common definitions for light are: 1.the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible and 2.the understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment. Note that light makes things visible and helps us to understand.
In the days of Jesus and his disciples they had a greater appreciation for this type of illustration because light was not in abundance as it is now. Today we can touch a switch and be able to see from one end of a home to the other, but it was not so in those days. When nighttime fell, the thickness of darkness prevented the dwellers in a home from seeing those in the same room unless they were next to each other. Candles and lamps were only able to provide enough light for one to see directly in front of them which is very different from today. Their experience with the blanket of darkness helped them to value the presence of light because it was considered a limited commodity.
Now, let’s discern what the writer meant in the above verse. Light, in this context, means more than just intellectual knowledge. The same writer states that “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5. In James chapter two and verse nineteen it says: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” Since we believe with the mind, it is not enough to have head knowledge of God who is the light referred to here. We are urged to move forward into an experiential knowledge. This may be what he means when he says “walk in the light”. Since God is the light, then we are to walk in with Him or live in His presence. It is in the company of God that the darkness of our minds is replaced with understanding, truth and love.
Now, what does “fellowship with one another “have to do with walking in the presence of God? Simply put, darkness divides. It’s when there is confusion and lies between us that we are the furthest apart. On the contrary, when we share understanding and agreement our experience together is one of reciprocity. Our salvation is not isolated from our experience with each other. In fact, the greatest evidence of being restored in relationship with God is not church attendance or bible study; it’s how we treat those around us. In conclusion, the closer we get to God, the more we understand the unique role we play in the lives and experiences of others. The choice remains for us to make.