My dad has a way of talking. In fact, my brothers and I have passed on some of his particular expressions to the next generation of the Brooks family. Our children and grandchildren need to know, “Rise and shine. The day is a wastin’”, and “If you do that again, I am going to ‘bring smoke’ on you”. I know things can be lost in translation but, our dad Jake’s Ozark mountain expressions give my brothers and me a common language.
John also had a way of talking. In the prologue to his gospel and in this, the first of his epistles, the Apostle and Elder John writes about life and light and joy. John had seen Jesus with his own eyes and touched him with his own hands. Now he wrote to a new generation of believers encouraging them to walk in the light.
Believers in the first and twenty-first centuries have some of the same struggles. How do we live as Christians in a largely non-Christian world? The motto, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, is the wrong approach for believers. Our connection with the God who is light still illumines our relationships with others.
We also live in the truth. In our day admitting mistakes is often seen as a sign of weakness. We go to great lengths to create the impression that we are blameless. As our world grows increasingly binary, we don’t want to weaponize our opposition by revealing our mistakes.
John is clear: if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Only in confession of our sins do we find the faithfulness of God sufficient for our forgiveness. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge their sin is not just lying to themselves and others, but calling God a liar. An Ozark mountain translation would say that such self-deception will eventually result in God “bringing smoke” on us. Whatever that means, we don’t want it! So let’s rise and shine. The day is a wastin’.