Fellowship Depends on Walking in the Light

"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:6-7) It is apparent from this passage that we must be walking in the light of truth if we are to enjoy fellowship with the Father, His Son, and with one another. Fellowship is a divine relationship, and while it is possible for us to practice it collectively, we can only receive it individually through baptism into Christ. This relationship continues until it is broken individually by misconduct.

Our walk should make evident to the outside world that we are the Disciples of Christ. We cannot, of course, literally walk with our Lord today, but we can ensure that we keep company with his followers. As followers of Jesus, we should not participate in activities that are not consistent with the mind of Christ and we must ever be on our guard to avoid the deteriorating influences of the world around us. We should always be willing to confirm our loyalty to him, while our conduct and the strength of our conviction should make clear to the world that we are the friends and followers of the Lord. As a result, we should largely dedicate our efforts to serving in the Lord's vineyard.

Isn't this what we committed to when our sins were washed away in the waters of baptism, and we emerged from the waters to a newness of life, a life in which every thought, word, and deed are to be dedicated to our Lord and Master? We made this pledge because of the hope that was set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.

Christ in his prayer for his brethren petitions his Heavenly Father to "sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." This truth, as revealed in the Scriptures, has the power to cleanse us and preserve us in God's way. It becomes a way of life, a mode of belief as taught in the sound doctrines of the Word according to godliness. The Psalmist writes, "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way...I have inclined mineheart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end" (Psalm 119:104, 112).

Walking in the way of truth produces a love that transcends every human emotion and experience. It is a devotion that receives and increases its strength and power from the continuous intake of His Word, in conjunction with prayer. God responds by extending help, responding also to the prayer of Christ to sanctify them through thy truth.

We thus enter the portals of divine loving response to the Father, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (1 John 4:9-11)

This brotherly love is expanded upon in 1st John 1:7, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." Those who are walking together in the pure light generated by the Scriptures do have true fellowship with one another. Their spiritual objectives and resultant development being the same, they are knit together in "the bond of perfectness" and this bond keeps them in fellowship with the Father and His Son.

One of the most evident reflections of whether we are walking in the light is in how we are letting our light shine before men. A very important aspect of this manifestation of light to those outside the faith is how we treat each other as brethren. John's words in 1st John 2:9-11 read, "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."

Jesus said in John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." Interestingly, this directive was given to Christ's followers just as he was about to leave them. It emphasized that obedience to this instruction would openly demonstrate that they were the friends and followers of the Lord Jesus. We read in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." While the Jews were distinguished by their peculiar dress and practices, the soldier by his particular sign, and still others in various ways, in no class of men had love for each other been the distinguishing element by which they were known. Peter wrote, "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves" (1st Pet. 4:8). If we love God, those outside the faith will be impressed with the reflection of love inour character. If the spirit of Christ motivates us, we will show patience, unselfishness, generosity, and sincerity.

The followers of Christ are not to be known by such things as their educational attainments, or wealth, or athletic prowess, or fame. His followers should, however, be recognized by their conviction of belief in the doctrines revealed in the Word of God, by their commitment to the Lord demonstrated in practice, and their ceaseless concern for the well being of each other.

It is imperative that all brethren feel there is equity in relation to the redeeming effects of Christ's blood, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. There should be the feeling that our Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, will not honor one above another because of worldly status. As brethren, we should befriend each other in trials and struggles, look out for one another's reputation, and readily deny ourselves to promote each other's welfare. (Consider these relative Scriptures: 1 John 3:23; 1 Thessaloinans 4:9; and 1 Peter 1:22.)

We cannot love only those who love us. We read in Luke 6:32 "For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them." Our love for each other should be so obvious, of such a decisive nature that all those around us may be able to see that we are like our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be a particular trait or quality by which we are known outwardly. We are to be known by a sincere, tender, and deep love, not by our dress, our habits, our manner of speech, or unusual practices. It is by the daily and quiet virtues of life, by a Christ-like spirit, by patience and meekness, and by the willingness to forgive. Through these and similar things, we are to let our light shine, for we are all members of one body, and should be joined together in love, without dissimulation.

Christ said, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) Just as our love for each other is letting our light shine, our every interaction and behavior, should be pure, in our business affairs, at home, when we travel, in lean times and good. All that know us should see that we are devoted followers of Christ.

It is important to ensure that our work is not to be seen of men. Jesus directly condemns such in Matthew 6:1-5, 16-18. The Pharisees prayed publicly and gave alms to be seen of men. Our motive should be to glorify and honor our Heavenly Father. It should be obvious to all what power the truth has over us, and should cause them to give praise and glory to God. We may feel that our little light is hardly noticed by the world, but we should note that the greater the darkness the more illuminating a small light becomes.

Christ's commandments are given that we through obedience can develop a character that is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, even to being holy, as he is holy. We are counseled, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:19-21). As brethren of Christ, we should be thinking and behaving with the perspective of eternity controlling our minds. We, like Christ, should pray in relation to the Father, Thy will be done, which implies an acceptance of what happens to us. Our duty is not only to accept what may happen, but we must strive to fulfill God's will.

It is God's purpose to call out and develop a people for His everlasting Kingdom. This idea of an eternal Kingdom of God is an extraordinary idea, and those individuals selected for the Kingdom must become extraordinary people. We read in Matthew 5:19 that the behavior of the faithful is outside the ordinary when Christ's teachings are understood and applied. "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19).

Paul records in Ephesians 1:10, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ." Oneness is a spiritual condition of believers who have a single purpose in common, and as a result, a oneness in intent, objective, action, and character. This oneness is developing and will not be completed until Christ's return.

Jesus says in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." In John 12, we find these words of our Lord, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth." Because temporal knowledge has increased, the world thinks of itself as enlightened. Temporal knowledge alone is not enough. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." This more abundant life is made possible for men only by his light of life. (See 1 John 1:4-5 and 2 Cor. 4:6.)

The Apostle Paul wrote, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18) It is the power of these eternal things of God that Christ has made known to us, and which alone can make us free.

Sin will promise anything to get us in its power, it continues to promise without ever satisfying anyone. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Romans 6:16)

All the world's troubles are a result of sin, including the fact that all suffer and die. This is necessary so that eternal life may be a matter of faith in the Scriptures, rather than of sight. Paul says in 2Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Our faith in God and His Word must be tried and proven before we can enjoy the blessing of immortality.

The light of truth is reflected in the life of the believer through belief in God's Word and obediently walking according to its teachings. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 15:1-2, "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." We note also the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:1-3, where he emphasizes that serving the Lord is our occupation. "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

We have accepted a new way of life, we seek a country wherein dwelleth righteousness; we seek the living God. If we are to attain to the marriage supper of the Lord, and share in the blessings of His eternal Kingdom, then we must be true to our name: Christadelphians, Brethren of Christ. Paul, writing to the brethren in Colosse, stressed, "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."

Our fellowship indeed depends on our continuing to walk in the light. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?" (Hebrews 2:1-4)

Sid Strickland
Atlanta, GA