By Matt Capps
I’ve always found the apostle John’s words in 1 John 1:7 fascinating: “If we walk in the light as He himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” What does “walking in the light” have to do with “fellowship with one another”? At first glance, the connection between light and fellowship isn’t as intuitive. That is, until one considers these two ideas from a spiritual perspective.
Have you ever noticed that when someone is burdened with the guilt of sin, they may isolate themselves in shame? It’s understandable. If you are trying to cover something up, you keep it in the dark. Bringing sin into the light means exposure.
By definition, isolation is the removal from fellowship with others. Even if one does not isolate themselves because of guilt or shame, the very act of hiding sin is deceptive and forfeits the opportunity to cultivate intimate relationships. One cannot experience a deep sense of fellowship with others if they lie about different aspects of their lives.
The prospect of John’s words, however, is hopeful. If we walk in the light––following the commands of God and exposing our failures in repentance to God and others, we will experience the deepest kind of fellowship.
I know, you may be thinking, “It doesn’t work like that! What type of community has this kind of fellowship?” Well, the church should. This is because everyone in the church is there by grace. All Christians stand on level ground at the cross.
The church is not a place for perfect people! The church is a place for repentant people who have been shown grace by God. If one has been shown grace by God, they should, in turn, show grace to others. This is especially true of the church as a fellowship of people in pursuit of holiness.
Walking in the light means pursuing holiness together. Part of that process is confessing our sins to one another. As John says, if we walk together in the light, we will experience true fellowship with one another (1John 1:7). This type of fellowship is not something you and I have to create ourselves, it already exists for those of us in Christ, we just need to walk in it.