Today’s Reading: 1 John 1
My wife and I have been married for more than two decades, and what she told me at the beginning of our marriage was both genius and biblical. Cindy said to me, “I will never complain or fight you on the amount of time you spend in the Word and in prayer. Because when you pray and read the Bible, you are a better husband, a better father, a better pastor, and a better man.” My wife is a very wise woman.
Cindy and the apostle John give us the prerequisite for great relationships. Here’s how John puts it: “If we keep living in the pure light that surrounds him, we share unbroken fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, continually cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, TPT).
Fellowship with one another.
The word fellowship is a strong relationship word in the Bible. The word itself means “to share” and “to be in partnership with.” Real fellowship is walking in agreement and in the same direction. In The Living Church, pastor and writer John R. W. Stott provides the three components of true Christian fellowship: our common inheritance, our common service, and our mutual responsibility.
Where does this fellowship start?
This is important: our fellowship with people is contingent on our walk with God. In order for there to be fellowship, according to 1 John 1:7, there must be light and blood. The light keeps everything open and accountable; the blood keeps everything forgivable if there is a sin encounter. When Cindy was urging me to my knees and the Bible, she was protecting our fellowship as husband and wife. There is no healthy, thriving relationship without light and blood. We need light and blood to deal with sin because sin is the corrupter of all relationships, starting with the most important one, with God.
Why is sin damaging to all relationships? Sin alters all relationships. The essence of sin is selfishness. It’s always “me and mine” first, where God, who is without sin, thinks of you and me first.
In Why Prayers Are Unanswered, John A. Lavender retells a story about Norman Vincent Peale. When Peale was a boy, he found a cigar, so he slipped into an alley and lit up. It didn’t taste very good, but it made him feel very grown-up—until he spotted his father coming toward him. Knowing he’d get into trouble if his father caught him smoking, he quickly put the cigar behind his back and tried to act casual. Desperate to divert his father’s attention, Norman pointed to a billboard advertising the circus. “Can I go, Dad? Please, let’s go when the circus comes to town.” His father’s reply taught Peale a lesson he never forgot. “Son,” he answered quietly but firmly, “never make a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience.”
Light exposes sin. Blood forgives sin.
My walk with Jesus has a direct bearing on my fellowship, not only with my family but with all people. If I am walking in the light, then I have fellowship, John says.
What does it mean to walk in the light? It is to live a life that is scrutinized by the Spirit, and that’s open and honest to those around you. When there is no darkness, that means nothing is hidden.
When I am giving marital counseling and seeing that there is a great divide in the relationship between husband and wife, my first question to them is, “Tell me about your devotional life.” While the couple is wanting to fix a toilet seat not put down, socks not picked up, and meals not on time, the real issue is light and blood. Inevitably I hear from them both that their time in the Word and prayer is nonexistent—and so is their relationship with each other.
Fellowship with one another is contingent on light that exposes our life, and blood forgives whatever is exposed. And when there is neither in our lives, then there is no healthy relationship in our lives. There is no shared life. There is no walking in agreement.
If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another. What God does in prayer and through His Word is that He gives us a common inheritance, common service, and mutual responsibility.
In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer brilliantly tells us how and why our relationship with God is imperative to healthy relationships:
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
When we walk with God, we walk successfully with each other because we are tuning our lives to Him.