Letter writing is such an amazing form of communication. I was talking with a friend the other day about using new technology and she said, ‘When I write to a friend I like to hand write the letter, it is more personal.’ When I was first getting to know my now wife we used to write to one another at college at least once a week. I really grew to know her well through our letters. I think I fell in love with her because of the intimacy we shared in our written words. Writing to friends, or lovers, needs an openess that formal letter writing does not allow. John, one of Jesus’ first followers, is writing to his immediate friends, and to us who are also dear to him, about how we will benefit from walking in the light (spiritual good) opposed to in the darkness (spiritual bad).

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him[a] to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:7-14 (The N.I.V translation)

We may not be satisfied with old truths and be looking for something new to satisfy us, John says that God’s new command to us is to walk in the light (spiritual good) and to avoid walking in darkness(spiritual bad). Walking in the light of following the spiritually good is something God has always wanted for us. Not because he is a spoil sport God, or because he doesn’t want us to enjoy life. On the contrary, by walking in the spiritual good we avoid the terrible consequences of being brought down in life by the spiritual bad. In writing encouragement to his friends, John is writing encouragement to us today to embrace the fullest of lives through our spiritual walk. ‘Look to the good and find in that the fullest of life,’ he says, ‘Don’t make excuses or walk in a way that needs to continually express sorrow (although do see my previous blog on a repentant life) but walk in the light so that you will experience spiritual freedom and power to live in the spiritual good.’

We might assume, if we haven’t come to reading the Bible before, that any passage that deals with our sinful nature would be harsh, hard, and condemning. I rarely find that in the books of the New Testament, but here I find John being down right encouraging to us. He says, ‘You are dealing with your sin through following Jesus, well done, keep it up, this is what God wants of you.’ As well as John’s immediate friends we too are giving attention to following Jesus, in whatever way or extent of commitment to the journey we have, we too can accept his praise. I was talking with another friend quite recently and a bit of a sound bite came to mind that I want to share with you, ‘If you have even the slightest regard for Jesus he has the greatest regard for you!’ I hope you find that encouraging too!

Dear Jesus, friend of sinners and saviour of the whole of creation, I come to you to follow your light. In a weak and doubt ridden way or in confidence of faith, depending on how I feel about myself today, I seek to walk in light and not in darkness. Let my ways be filled with your love and my life be less of a struggle with the darkness within. Give me the strength today to show the value of walking in the light in a world that, too often, is caught up in darkness. Amen.