Volume 2 November 15, 2003 Issue 19

Walking In The Light

Reality —

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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 His Son cleanses us from all sin." (I John 1:5-7 NASB)

The Analogy —

Consider if you will, a performance on a stage in an auditorium. As the lights in the auditorium grow dim, the lights on the stage grow brighter. Your attention is drawn to the stage. In a very real sense the focus of your attention is controlled by the light. Various sections of the stage will be methodically lighted and then darkened as the lighting technicians skillfully manipulate the lights to direct your attention to whatever area they have targeted throughout the performance.

For the moment now, let's narrow this lighting analogy down to a discussion of one single light that is being used to light the performers on the stage. A typical light used in a theater setting is extremely bright. However even when a lighting technician wants the stage to be as bright as possible s/he would probably place a "pale apricot" filter (or gel as it is called) in front of the light just to give the performers on stage a more pleasing shade of skin tone. About all it does is make the performers look better to the audience. The audience can't even tell that there's a filter at all on the light. The stage is still very well lit. As the performance continues however, the technician will most likely begin to use a variety of different filters that will constantly change the amount of light allowed to reach the stage. The technician knows that there are certain gels or filters, that when used in front of the light, will actually filter out so much of the light that the audience will hardly be able to see the performance going on in front of them. For example, just one "royal blue" gel used with no other light source will render the performance indistinguishable. It allows only 4% of the light to pass through it. So the technician must be careful to know exactly what colors or filters can be used and which ones cannot be used before the light is so dimmed and filtered that it is no longer of any value for the purpose for which it is there.

When we consider this analogy, it's easy to see that even though the light itself may never change in intensity or degree of brightness, various filters placed in front of it will reduce its power to illuminate the stage. In other words, even though the source remains the same and never changes, the brightness of the stage and the appearance of the performers is easily altered by how much of the light is allowed to project through the filter. The effect on the stage can go from simply altering the appearance in order to "look better" to the observer to being so dark that the performers are hardly visible and disappear into the darkness around them. The source is still there — it never changed but those in its light appear quite different depending on how much light is blocked by the filters.

Reality —

Much is said in the Scriptures about "light." In fact, the word "light" occurs 272 times in 235 verses of the King James version of the Bible. So it wouldn't be possible for us to do much more in this article, than just barely touch the tip of the iceberg about all the Word says about light or The Light.

For purposes of this lesson let's look at I John 1:5. That verse tells us that —

"...God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (KJV)

So God is the source of all light. There is no darkness in Him. He is that one very bright Light that never changes (I Cor. 12:6). So we might say — in keeping with our analogy — that God has absolutely no filters on His Light. At least not unless we decide to add some. Why would we do that? Remember the pale apricot gel on the theater light? All it did was make the performers "look better" to the audience. It becomes very easy to rationalize how important it is for us to "look good" to everyone around us. And, such a small bit of filtering is hardly noticeable anyway. So why not filter it just a bit? So we begin to look around and determine what it might be that would improve our "image" with the world at large. Remember it's only pale apricot — nothing too dark — just enough to make us "look better."

The Analogy —

A performer on stage may struggle with the bright light in his/her eyes the first few times he or she performs. But with a bit of practice, the light no longer makes him or her want to squint or step off to a darker area of the stage. He or she simply becomes conditioned to walking in the light and actually becomes quite comfortable in it. At first though, it's really tempting to step just a bit into the darker area of the stage. It's much more comfortable there.

Reality —

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:19-21 NIV)

"...everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible...." (Ephesians 5:13-14 NIV)

"If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;" (I John 1:6 NIV)

For many years the churches of Christ were known as a Bible based pillar of Christianity. Those whom the Lord added to His church knew and taught truth. There was simply no wavering from the Word of God. In the brightest Light of the Word of God was where every Christian desired to stand.

The Analogy —

As the featured performer remains in the brightest light of the stage, secondary performers on the peripheral portion of the stage are in varying degrees of darkness. So while they're not nearly as well lit as is the featured performer, there is still some degree of light being generated from that one main source. They're not in total darkness because a small portion of that one light is still having some — however small it is — influence on them. If however, when secondary performers step too far from the main light source, they no longer have any light at all to light their way.

Reality —

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

But, so many of our friends and acquaintances just don't "get it." Why do we still insist on those "legalistic things." Things like baptism being essential for salvation and what's that "congregational a cappella singing only" thing you people do? Get "with it." Put a good praise band together. It'll draw a lot of people to your church. You people need to look more pleasing to the eyes of the world? It just isn't very loving to adhere to all of those "legalistic Bible things." So — a few more filters are added to the Word. But the Light is still so bright that most people won't "put up with it." It's just too uncomfortable to always be walking in that much light. Everything is always visible with that much Light. Let's put a darker filter on the Light so more people will be comfortable standing in it. In fact, let's just tell them that if they want to believe something entirely different than what the Bible clearly says, it's OK! After all, we need to appeal to the largest number of people that we possibly can. Right? Let's filter it enough so that almost everyone can think they have fellowship with Him — but wow, now it's really dark. The Light is hardly getting through the filters at all.

The need to "shade" or filter the Gospel so that we can appeal to the masses has become so great that many high caliber authors and preachers such as Max Lucado, Rubel Shelly and others have begun disassociating themselves from the name church of Christ and have quit teaching that baptism is essential for salvation. They now teach that it is an act of obedience after salvation. The unfiltered Gospel is just too harsh! It makes it very difficult to "fit in" with the majority. The "...light of the glorious gospel of Christ..." (II Cor. 4:4 KJV) condemns too many things that the world in general accepts. While putting filters in front of the Light may make it easier for more people to stand in it, it's purity and message is lost. Some today, are placing so many filters over the Light of the Gospel in an effort to be more appealing to the masses, that in some churches today, the Source is hardly discernable any longer. But those who are adding all of those filters, see no problem with that. They perceive that the filters are working. In fact, attracting more and more people to the a church seems to be making it brighter. At least we're starting to look better to more people. The problem is that we're so "caught up" in how good we're starting to look that we've forgotten that —

"...Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (II Cor.. 11:14 NASB)

When Paul was on the road to Damascus, the light was so bright that it blinded him (Acts 22:11). That's how bright the Light of God is. But asking the world to put on sunglasses until they can become accustomed to The Light is difficult to do. It's much easier to add enough filters to try to make The Light "fit" the world rather than the world "fit" The Light."

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NASB)

"But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." (I Thessalonians 5:4-5 NIV)

"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light." (Ephesians 5:8 NASB)

"Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'" (II Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV)

"Diligence" is a privately funded publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio