Thursday, December 31, 2015

Remembering God's Goodness


Around AD 100, the Apostle John wrote a personal, passionate letter to the Church. John, once a fisherman who left his nets to follow Jesus, was an old man who had walked with Jesus for many years. The Resurrection had happened many years prior, and the believers were growing cold and indifferent in their faith. Most of us can relate to losing our enthusiasm about God; this happens to all of us at some point.

 

When we lose our passion for Jesus Christ, it is helpful to stop and remember who Jesus is and what he means to us. If we fail to rekindle our love for Jesus we risk being led astray by the world. This is the danger Paul cautioned the church at Ephesus about when he said, “After I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29ff.).

 

John draws us in close to God. He reminds us of who God is. God is light, and in him, there is no darkness. God is love, and he loved us before we loved him. God is light and love. God is not darkness and hate. Allow God’s Word to draw you close to him and to the people in your life.

 

1 John 1:1-5 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

 

John has had a personal experience with Jesus Christ. He uses this personal experience with the Risen Jesus, that had happened more than fifty years before this letter, to drive his point home. John said, in essence, “I know Jesus. Listen to what I have to say about him.”

 

God is light. Light is a metaphor for righteousness and goodness. God is absolutely perfect. He has no defect. We can add nothing to God to make him better. God is original in his goodness. He did not inherit or learn his goodness. God is inherently good and is goodness itself. God is the greatest good.

 

God’s commands are good. God’s laws are good. God’s Word is good. God’s plan is good. God passed his good onto creation.

 

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

 

Psalm 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love (goodness) of the Lord.

 

God made us to be good.

 

Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

 

In the Bible, God’s goodness is compared to light. Light is the divine spark that reveals and illuminates. Light makes visible what is true. God’s light is a transforming light in that it has turned those who are in it to lights themselves; Jesus said that believers are the light of the world.

 

Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

 


 

“Due to its location among sheer mountains and its northern latitude, Rjukan, Norway, does not see natural sunlight from October to March. To lighten up the town, the citizens installed large mirrors on the mountainside to reflect the sun rays and beam sunlight into the town square. The continuous glow is made possible because the giant mirrors rotate with the rising and setting sun. I like to think of the Christian life as a similar scenario. Jesus said His followers are “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). John, the disciple, wrote that Christ the true light “shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). So too, Jesus invites us to reflect our light into the darkness around us: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).”[1]

 

Living in the light of God, according to John, relates to loving one’s brother and keeping the commandments of Jesus. Being in the light is fellowshipping with God instead of walking in darkness. God, in his goodness, cleanses us and restores us when we confess our sins to him.

 

John, in this first letter of three in our New Testament, said that he encountered the goodness of God firsthand in the person of Jesus Christ. In verse one, John said he “heard,” “seen,” and “gazed upon” Jesus with his own ears and eyes. John stressed that he “handled” the Risen Christ. This is an important message to our culture today; many, regarding Jesus, ask, “was he” instead of “who was he?” John wrote that he had fully experienced Jesus Christ.

 

The word “see” means to see with physical sight. The words “looked upon” are from the Greek “theasthai” which means to “gaze at someone or something until something has been grasped of significance.”[2] John had the opportunity to look with wonder at Jesus and think deeply about the mystery of who Jesus is.

 

What amazed me most was that he actually touched Jesus. When Jesus came back to his disciples after the Resurrection, Jesus welcomed them to touch his risen body.

 

Luke 24:39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.

 

John actually touched Jesus. Jesus, flesh-and-blood, really walked this earth. The debate about whether Jesus lived should be put to rest. In the late first century, Josephus wrote about Jesus. His words are accepted by classic historians including Eusebius. Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote, “About this time, lived Jesus, a wise man, if it be proper to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And, when Pilate condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at the first did not forsake him for he appeared unto them again, alive on the third day” (Josephus 18, 3:3).

 

Not only did Jesus live, but he also died and then lived again. John heard him. John saw him. John gazed at him. John touched him. Jesus, who is God in human form, came to this earth to meet us. Jesus, who is light and goodness, entered time and walked into our world to have a personal relationship with us. He came to reconcile us to God and tear down the barrier that sin had built.

 

For many, finding the light and goodness of God is difficult because of the pain we experience in this world. We should never believe that because we are living in a broken world full of evil that God is not good. God is light in a dark world.

 

“God is Light” reminds us of God’s goodness.

When any of us think of God, perhaps trying to visualize him, the best we can do is to think of light, remembering Paul’s teaching that God “lives in unapproachable light” (1Timothy 6:16). Psalm 104 says that God “wraps himself in light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2).

 

1. God is splendor and glory in this dark world. Like a shooting star on a dark night, God lights up the darkness and grabs our attention. The darkness cannot conceive of God, who is light.

 

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

According to Stephen Hawking, “A 1-watt night-light emits a billion, billion photons each second. Photons are the little packets that light comes in. Confusingly, they, like all particles, behave as both a particle and a wave.”[3] Can you conceive of the power of God?

 

2. God has revealed himself. God is not hiding from us. God is making himself known. God is not secretive. God has no fine print or hidden motive. God wants you to know him.

 

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

When Jesus stated He was the Light of the world, He was clearly (contrary to what so many claim) stating he was God, for God is Light!

 

Physical light bears the image and stamp of its Creator. What an amazing and remarkable thing light is. Darkness cannot drive out the light, but light can drive out the darkness.

 

3. God is pure and holy. In a dark, evil world, God is holy. God does not hide under darkness. He is the light of purity and holiness. God’s light shows us our own imperfections and flaws so that he can make us complete.

 

Life as we know it craves light. A plant will always turn toward the light and struggle to reach it.

 

4. God is here to guide us. Headlights show the way on a dark road. God guides our journey. Light dispels the worries and dangers of darkness. When we walk in the Light, we won’t stumble in the darkness.

 

How have you seen God’s light displayed in our broken world? In what ways have you shared His light?

 

I have been to New Orleans many times. I remember the first time I went to the French Market for the first time as a young man, I could feel the darkness of that place. Perhaps you can sense the darkness in your home, workplace, or neighborhood. You have the opportunity to be a light in this dark world. You can reflect the light of Christ to those around you.

 

The LORD bless you, and keep you;

The LORD make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;

The LORD lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.’

Numbers 6:24-26

 

Reflect the Son and shine for Him.

 

“Lord, the world around us is sometimes so dark that it 's hard to see Your power and goodness. Thank You for the reminders that the darkness does not and will not last forever. Help us wait with great expectation for the day when we will see You on Your throne.”[4]



[1]http://odb.org/2015/11/18/reflecting-the-son/, (Retrieved on December 15, 2015).
 
[2]William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters of John and Jude, (London, UK: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 46.
[3]http://www.livescience.com/8869-8-shocking-learned-stephen-hawking-book.html, (Retrieved on December 15, 2015).
[4]http://odb.org/2015/09/29/piercing-the-darkness/,  (Retrieved on December 15, 2015).