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July 8, 2018, 6:54 AM

Actions of the Light

Good Morning, Grace and Peace to you from the Creator, Christ and Spirit. May the words from my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

I have a question. Have you ever suffered that friend who just insisted that you must do something and either you knew you couldn't, shouldn't or at least the time for it was not now? I hope you have not been that friend but instead the one who listened and heard what the other was saying. Either way, we speak of Jesus understanding us, because he suffered the same as we did, and in our Gospel today we have a bit of a unique suffered as we might have. Today in the Gospel lesson we see the disciples trying to convince Jesus of what he needs to do.

Now lets put this in context. It says in the lesson that it was about time for the festival of booths, also know as Sukkot. This is a Jewish festival that continues to be held and which is commanded in the bible for Jews. It is a harvest festival and it is a commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt which is thus is about the dependence on God. In the time of the temple, which is the time Jesus was living in, it was a time for pilgrimage, if at all possible to Jerusalem and the Temple, and so what his disciples are suggesting is that Jesus take the traditional pilgrimage and in the process others will get to see the truth about him and come to believe.

Jesus being the fully self differentiated and fully realized person, tells the disciples that it is not his time to go up to Jerusalem. Obviously, to us who have the benefit of hindsight, this makes sense since his next trip to Jerusalem is to be arrested, tried and hung on the cross. While none of these events were avoidable, the timing was important and this was not the time.

Now in defense of the disciple, he had come to know and believe the truth of salvation through Jesus and what the text tells us is that he wanted his brother to witness the same things, so that his brother might also come to believe. The cause is noble but the timing is wrong and the disciple did not know that.

So, I think we can both take heart and strength from this passage. We can take heart when we do that which is not the way of the world because it is the way of God and we can gain strength knowing that Jesus faced the same challenges and had the strength to go through it. If Jesus had the strength to go through it and we know the guarantee is that Jesus is with us, then we too have the strength to go through the challenge and hold our ground on doing what is right.

It is wonderful to talk about having the strength to do what is right because we are accompanied in all we do by God but what is right. The question of judging our actions is important and while specific rules are nice as we learned earlier this summer, in our study of the ten commandment, most rules are better thought of as the minimum bar than thinking of them as the outside edge of our conduct. In other words, rules are better when you never even come close to violating them.

If rules are best thought of as the minimum bar that would indicate that there is a higher standard that can be applied when considering our actions. For this I turn to our text from 1John. I turn here because if we know the nature and character of God then we can look to live in the actions that are consistent with the nature and character of God. What does the text say, “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” 1Jo 1:5

Now we need to find a way to make this nature and character also a way to judge our actions. The good news is that this is relatively easy. If God is light, then those actions that are consistent with the nature and character of God, are those things which can be in the presence of light. Consider, the thief does not want their actions brought into the light, they need them to remain in the dark or there will be consequences they do not want to face. On the other hand, the person who helps their neighbor to rebuild their lawn mower, may not want out of modesty to let everyone know what they did, but in truth if people came to know about it there is no shame.

Looking at the text again I am reminded that when we walk in the light or when our actions a those which can survive the scrutiny of others and show themselves to be positive, then we can walk with others. Walking with others we have fellowship as the text reminds us. If our actions need to remain concealed, then it is much harder to form friendships. If our actions are better left in the dark, then the shame may keep us from being with others, so that they do not learn what we did. If we helped our neighbor to have a better relationship with their family then it is easy to be in fellowship with their family. If we are committing adultery with our neighbor then likely we do not want to spend time with the rest of their family, lest we make a slip and the whole world will know and we would suffer shame and embarrassment.

So, the question of will it thrive in the light is, I think, a good measure for whether an action is in keeping with the nature and character of God. Consider, helping with painting, mowing, hanging a picture, offering a meal, offering a ride, being gentle and patient with the confused and befuddled, planting a tree, and taking a walk, are all things that we need not worry if others know we did them. These are things that will survive the scrutiny of being brought into the light.

Likewise things that we want to keep in the dark are generally sinful and damaging to fellowship. Consider, I took fruit from the neighbors tree without asking and/or knowing that they have asked others not to, road rage, voyeurism, taking more than your fair share, assuming you are entitled to luxuries in life, graffitti, not having patience with the elderly and generally anything that preferences my benefit while creating a disadvantage for the other, are all things that I would rather no one every know I am doing.

So, bring it to light or keep it in the dark is a good standard. Being willing to do the the right thing, even when others are encouraging you to do something else is important and we have help from God. But there is this not so small detail that I may get the equation wrong or I may act on impulse and suddenly finding myself not wanting my actions brought to light, what then, am I doomed to live outside the fellowship of believers and outside the presence of God. No, is the simple answer. That is a benefit that those of us who follow Jesus the Christ have. Jesus Christ in suffering and dying on the cross became the advocate for us, the force which brings us back into fellowship with the light by ensuring those things are forgiven and forgotten.

Thus this morning we have learned that Jesus helps us have the strength to do what we know is right and to remain on the right path, even when others are encouraging otherwise. We have this wonderful standard of light to judge which actions are in keeping with the nature and character of God. And we have forgiveness and reconciliation with God when we get it wrong, which no doubt we will from time to time. Thus I send you forth from this time together to live in the light


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