Hated - House - lose power
I have always hated it when your at your house and you lose power.
My wife and I used to live in this pretty old house in the North Valley and some tree branches damaged the main power line to our house and we had no power for 2 days. Which I know in the context of the entire world, is nothing, but for us, it was the biggest deal in the world.
Dukes - Power outage
I remember years ago my friend and I went to see a Dukes game. Y'all remember the Dukes?
Well we were at the Dukes stadium and right in the middle of the game, the entire thing lost power. And it was the strangest experience. It only lasted for a couple minutes, but I'm telling you, in those couple minutes, people regressed back to cavemen. People were yelling, and throwing stuff. And man, we were thinking, we may have to start crafting weapons out of sticks or something. Bows and arrows with our shoelaces.
And people were like "YYEEEAAAHHH!!!" (Fist in air), and then the lights flipped back on, and they were like "Oh." And they took their seat.
Often times we don't appreciate how much we depend on the light, until we don't have the light. And that's what we're talking about this week. We're talking about light.
We're doing an extremely quick overview of the book of 1st John.
Last week I introduced you to the writer of 1st John, who's name is… John. John is unique in the Bible. John was the only one of the 12 disciples to die of natural causes. And he likely lived into his 90's.
So he's the only writer in the entire bible that was one of the 12 disciples and is able to write to us as an old man. So it's an incredibly unique and important perspective for us.
(Tell us about God's nature)
John, of course, is one of the 4 gospels writers. Which means he wrote one of the four books that we call 'gospels' that are historical books about the life and ministry of Jesus.
The other gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, they tell us what God (through Jesus, who is God) DID and what God SAID.
John though, is unique. He wants to show us who God IS.
He wants to show us God's NATURE.
Not God is a light, not God is the light, but God is light.
The god of this age (the devil) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light… (2 Corinthians 4:4)
What light? What does that mean?
It's a little tricky. If I say "God is love", that's not that hard to understand. You understand what love is, and how Jesus on the cross is the ultimate example of love. And if I say 'God is spirit' well that's not that difficult to understand either. God is immaterial. He's not made out of flesh and bone. He's eternal.
But when we say 'God is light', a lot of people aren't too sure what that means.
Light is actually a huge theme in the bible.
The Bible begins and end w/light.
If were we to go to the first chapter in your bible, Genesis 1. In the creation story where God is speaking the world into existence. The very first thing. "Let there be …." Light. Light is the first thing God made.
Jump to the very end of the Bible - the last chapter, Revelation 22 says that when Jesus comes back and establishes the kingdom of God there will be … 'only light', - No darkness at all. In fact it says we won't even need the sun because the glory of Jesus will illuminate all of creation.
And between those 2, this theme of light appears about 200 times, give or take.
In - Old Testament - God revealed himself AS light.
We know that in the Old Testament, that God revealed himself AS light. He appeared to the Israelites, and Moses in particular as light.
In fact, the light that emanated from the presence of God, got on the face of Moses so that when he came down the mountain to speak to the children of Israel, his face was shining with the reflection of that light.
To appreciate the light, you have to understand darkness. The Bible says the world is in darkness. Not physical darkness of course, but another kind of darkness.
Most people in our culture don't agree with that. We think we're pretty good, pretty moral. - Society, you know, overall, is pretty good. And so the idea of God being light, feels a bit dull.
If you think it's already bright outside, a flashlight is really not that important. Really what's happening is we're just used to it being dark. We've become acclimated.
Research student - Alaska - arctic circle. I was reading about this research student who went to Alaska, to the arctic circle where there's 5 and a half month of straight darkness. And then they have 5 and a half months of straight light. And she said at first is was the creepiest thing that had ever happened, but after a few weeks… meh. You're used to it.
Fish - "What's water?" If you ask a fish about water, they'll say "What's water?". A fish, unless it's dead has never been out of the water for very long. Except for some very, very traumatic experiences. In the same way, we don't realize that there is this darkness in the world, because we've always been in it.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)
So it's interesting that in the beginning of 1 John, just like the gospel of John, we see John refer to Jesus as 'The word of God' or 'The Word of Life'. And the spiritual teachers of the day spoke of the 'The Word of God', but none of them spoke of the word becoming flesh. So here we have John highlighting that difference when he says "We heard the word with our own ears. We saw the word with our own eyes. We touched this word with our hands. Of course talking about Jesus. The word of God becoming flesh.
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:2)
Beautiful language here. When talking about Jesus, John says "Eternal life appeared to us." I love that.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And ouxr fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)
We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1:4)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (1 John 1:6)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
"God is Light" - What does that mean?
When we're in darkness, we'll make serious mistakes about what's true.
When I was young, I had a youth leader named Kiko and one night, he woke up in the middle of night to find a mouse sitting on his chest. So he freaks out, grabs the mouse, and he chucks it across the room. And he goes back to sleep. Well 30 minutes later, he wakes up again, and the mouse is sitting on his chest again. So he grabs the mouse and chucks it across the room. Well turns out, that Kiko had a fever, and he was hallucinating. And this "mouse" was his other hand, so he was picking up his other hand and throwing it. Imagine being his wife laying next to him, watching him throw his hand across the room. Wow.
Your mind can play tricks on you in the dark,
So light reveals, and darkness conceals. That's why so much crime happens at night, because darkness conceals. We used to tell the teenagers - nothing good happens after midnight.
But in the light of Christ, we're able to see what's true, what's good, and what's beautiful.
The world has absolutely no idea what is true, what is good, what is beautiful. They have absolutely no idea.
And so what the world has done is make everything into broad enough categories so they don't have to make value judgements on what's good and what's evil.
You want some examples? Here you go:
Angels & demons /// "Spirits"
In Christianity, we believe in angels and demons, but what does the world believe in? "Spiritis" right? You can of course see how that's a Christian belief, just minus the concept of good and evil.
One true God & false God's. /// All religions - same.
We believe in the one true God, and false God's. What does the world believe in? All religions are the same. That Christianity is no different from any other faith.
Creator & creation. /// God & Universe are one
We believe in creator, and creation. That God made the world and is distinct from the world. What does the world believe? Essentially Pantheism, which is God and the universe are one. That basically what God is, is an energy that flows through creation. Think about Star Wars, and the force that flows through all living things.
Truth & lies. /// Make your own truth.
We believe in truth and lies. What does the world believe in? Making your own truth. - No one can say what's true for you except for you.
God & mankind. /// We are all part of the divine.
We believe in God and mankind. What does the world believe? That we are part of the divine. And so instead of going out to God to find truth, we find truth where? Within ourself. It's the whole Post-modern idea: “You create yourself.”
And we believe that God is ONLY light, and how much darkness? None at all. God is Light and God is not darkness.
A LOT of Christians don't believe that. They believe God is both light and darkness. Both good and evil. They think of God as this bipolar maniac, who loves you one minute and gives you a disease the next.
If you're familiar with the Yin/Yang symbol. I used to just think this was something they put on throwing stars. Well turns out it's actually a Chinese philosophy. That in any given entity, there's both light and dark.
And I'm actually mostly fine with that, with the exception of God.
So take me for example. You might think I'm a pretty decent guy. But the truth is, I'm a bundle of paradoxes, and so are you.
God is only light. Not for a millisecond is he anything else.
And if that's true (and it is) then: God revealed in Jesus is our best and most faithful metric by which we judge everything else. And I gotta tell you, for me that is such a comfort. B/C the world continues to change, and the world keeps asking me questions I don't know the answer to.
Bathroom controversies You think about all the bathroom controversies in recent years. "Who should pee in which bathroom?" - I don't know. I guess I want everybody to be able to pee and also be safe. Is that an option. But the world is confusing. It really, really is. And I'm not always sure what I'm supposed to think about stuff.
So I can't tell you how much joy and peace I get from knowing that the life and teachings of Jesus will always be there for me and always point me to true north.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9)
In the light of Christ, we're able to discern the true, the good, the beautiful.
So I want to talk about healing. And I know healing can seem strange and spooky, but healing is part of God's nature. He can't help himself, he fixes broken things, and heals broken people because that's what the Kingdom of God looks like.
Just in case you've heard this, this is not a gift that passed away with the apostles. It's a beautiful gift from a loving father, that is for all times, all places, all people. I know this is an unpopular opinion, and honestly I don't really care. I still believe that Jesus is a healer, that he wants to heal, he's eager to heal, he's eager to be asked to bring healing. I believe that.
And I don't believe that in some super generic way, I believe that healing is for us. That God wants to heal you. I really believe that.
I know that there's a lot of weirdness around the idea of healing, and faith healers. And honestly, there's a culture surrounding all that, that I really hate. We've taken something that's really beautiful, and really simple, and really pure, and turned it into something that's complicated, and scary, and spooky.
We have this tendency to make healing something that's reserved for the super spiritual. And that really bums me out.
Regular guy - construction. So a regular guy comes in here, works construction, and has… prostate cancer. And he walks into a church and thinks "Man, that healing business is just for those super spiritual people. Not for an ordinary man like me." - That's a huge bummer.
You don't even have be a Christian for God to heal you.
"Where'd you get that idea? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Most of the people who Jesus healed were not following him. They just heard Jesus was in town and so they figured they'd go over and ask. And boom. I highly recommend you become a Christian. And I highly recommend you live a Holy life, I'm just saying that's not a prerequisite to being healed.
All times, all places, all people.
There's a better way of thinking about healing:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (Matthew 7:9)
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? (Matthew 7:10)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
Amazing. Jesus says even those of you who are evil, that don't know anything about God. If your child comes and asks you for bread, you don't give him a rock. And if your child asks you for a fish, it won't be 'Surprise! Rattlesnake! Black Mamba!' Even evil people don't do that.
If even those who are evil know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more does your Heavenly Father desire to give good gifts.
As a parent - strong desire to take care
As a parent, I have an unbelievably strong desire to take care of my daughter. And Jesus here is making the comparison that if you being evil and want to take care of your kids, how much more does the father want to take care of you.
It's not just that God CAN heal, it's not just that God WILL heal, it's that he WANTS to heal. He delights in it. It brings him pleasure.
My dad helps me fix things around the house.
I've told you before, but when it comes to manly stuff like fixing pipes and replacing spark plugs, I'm about as handy as a monkey with 4 thumbs. So when I need his help, I don't beg and give him 5 reasons why he should, or try to barter with him. My dad WANTS to help me, because he loves me. The whole thing changes when you realize that healing you is what God WANTS to do. You don't have to come and plead with him, and convince him. "God if you do this, I won't drink coffee for 4 weeks." He doesn't need any of that.
When you need something, God doesn't want you to come and barter, he wants you to come and ask.
Grace @ park
Story: Grace at the park, when she gets cold or she gets tired, she just comes up to me, and puts her arms out. And 10 times out of 10, she does that because she wants me to pick her up and carry her. 10 times out of 10, I pick her up, and I carry her. And I'm happy when she does that.
That's what the Father wants
And I think that more than anything, that's what the father wants.
What the father wants is just for you to turn to him, put up your arms, and say 'Dad, I don't know how to fix this. I need you to carry me.'
The Father DESIRES to give good gifts to his children. You don't have to convince him. It's part of him being light. He heals. That's just his character.
Closing Statement: In a world of darkness, God is Light. And in his light, we're able to discern the true, the good, and the beautiful. God is not both good and bad, light and dark. No, God is only good - only light. // In God's light, we find our healing. It's not just that God CAN heal us, or that he WILL heal us, it's that he DELIGHTS in healing us. It brings him pleasure. God is a loving father who is eager to be asked, and eager to be trusted.
Question: What have I been doing on my own, that I need to invite God into?
For some of you that's inviting God into your family. I feel like I talk to people every week that have issues in their family that they don't know how to fix it. And if that's you, what I believe that what God wants is for you to come and ask for his help. Or maybe is it inviting God into your past. To heal the things only he can heal. Or maybe it's inviting God into your success. God doesn't only want to talk to you when you're in pain. He also wants to celebrate with you in your victories.
God help - bring - dark - revealing / healing light.
Whatever it is, we believe that God will help us bring that which is in the dark, into his revealing, and healing light.