In the Bible, the coming of light describes the unique, saving experience of an encounter with God. In I John, the writer says, “This is the message that we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” There is no mistaking the fact that “Him” means Jesus. Jesus spoke of His life as light and He talked of the possibility of life in Him in terms of light.
All this talk of light and darkness has a hint of mysticism about it, an otherworldliness. John saves us from such wrongheaded thinking. John provides an insight about light that is practical. His text tells us what it means to pursue the light. First of all, pursuing the light means seeing ourselves for who we really are. John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” We need to see ourselves for who we truly are in the light of God’s presence. We have to admit our weaknesses, acknowledge our needs and confess our sins.
Pursuing the light also means experiencing God’s forgiveness. Fellowship with God is impossible apart from forgiveness for our sins. Fortunately, God wants to extend forgiveness to us as much as we need to seek forgiveness from God. Celebrations of Christmas make little sense without confession of sin on our part and receiving divine forgiveness. If we refuse to acknowledge our personal need for God and refrain from any confession of sin and deny our need for forgiveness, we cannot truly experience the meaning of the Incarnation.
Pursuing the light also means “doing the truth.” We must not only speak the truth, but we must do the truth. Integrity is a matter of deeds as well as words. Integrity is a mark of the lifestyle of one who follows the light of Christ. Truth affirmed in words has to become truth incarnated in behavior. The best celebrations of Christ’s birth are action-filled demonstrations of the truth of Christ’s life.
Pursuing the light also means living morally. What does Christ’s birth have to do with living morally? No area of life is off limits to the redemptive, transforming light of Christ’s presence. Christ’s birth is celebrated when Christ’s followers live morally day in and day out. John writes that a person who claims to have fellowship with Christ, yet continues to walk in darkness is a liar. To ignore the demands of Christ while kneeling at the manger is hypocrisy. We must live moral lives.
Pursuing the light also means abiding in love. John relates hatred to darkness and love to light. Christ, the light, is the incarnation of love. To live in fellowship with Jesus is to love. Celebrating Christmas includes reconciliation with God. It means becoming reconciled with other people and with them, abiding together in love.
Pursuing the light means sharing with others. The light is not for us alone. The light of Christ is for all people. What is the carol we sing every year? “Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere! Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!” That is actually what the shepherds did that first Christmas. They went to the place where Jesus lay and “When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.” Advent is a time to resolve to live in the light and to make a covenant with God to share with others the light which we enjoy so much for ourselves.