We live in remarkably uncivil times. Television is crass and violent, whether news reports or “entertainment.” Social media allow people to vent impatience and invective at anyone who disagrees with them. Hate crimes, including those against Christians, are on the increase. So what are we to do?

We could, and probably should, pray about our use of all media, but let’s dig deeper. This Advent season, let’s make it our priority to consider what it means to behave like Christians and have fellowship with the people around us. Given the historical and literary contexts of John’s letter, we can be confident that he expected his audience to have fellowship with believers. So even though we Christians should treat all those we meet with civility and even love, we can begin in-house.

Loving our fellow believers is not easy. Fellowship, participation in a community of faith that would meet John’s standards of sharing and transparency, does not come naturally to sinners. Even though the early Church was far better known for love and fellowship than most modern, Western churches are, John knew his standards were high.

Notice what he does and does not say. He says Jesus’ blood cleanses us because sin interrupts and ultimately destroys fellowship. But he does not say that if we walk in the light we have fellowship with Him. Yet, I think he sets us up to expect just that, because “He Himself” is emphatic, and because it is true. We do have fellowship with God when we walk in the light of His absolute moral perfection (1:5). John knew this too. John took his audience immediately to the level of application: walking in the light of fellowship with God entails fellowship with others. Anyone can claim to walk with the unseen God, but John makes it clear that validation of that claim requires observable community.

As we celebrate the light that Jesus brought into the world, let’s also walk in it. Let’s take counter-cultural steps together that bring others into our lives and put them first. It will not be easy in these dark times, but it will be good.

“But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.” – 1 John 1:7

This article originally appeared in the 2018 Advent devotional from Denver Seminary, “The Light of the World.” 

Elodie Emig

Elodie Emig

Elodie Emig, MA is an instructor of Greek at Denver Seminary. She joined the adjunct faculty in 1988 and teaches Greek. She became a full-time instructor of Greek in 2004. In addition to her duties at the Seminary, she is also on the adjunct pastoral staff of New Song Church and Ministries and the board of Where Grace Abounds.

Ms. Emig holds an MA in New Testament from Denver Seminary. Since her student days, Ms. Emig has served the New Testament department of Denver Seminary as a grader and guest lecturer. She has also volunteered her exegetical expertise to Where Grace Abounds. She has written numerous articles on the Bible and homosexuality.

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