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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What we have in common

When you share something with someone, you take part in what one of the two has to offer. In some cultures, all things are put into common and viewed as common resources.  In other words, what one catches or grows is put into common storage and is distributed from the common resources to meet the needs of everyone in the community.  At other times, we may consider "sharing" as what we do when we have a little of what someone else doesn't have and then we give it to them so they can get use of it or enjoy it as much as we have.  Either way, there is this idea of "common use" or "common benefit" from what one has to share. When it is something as significant as our nature, that is a pretty awesome thing to share!

If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn’t in our hearts. But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. (I John 1:5-9 CEV)

We first share in the light Jesus brings into an otherwise pretty dark existence.  If you have ever stopped long enough to consider what it was like before you experienced Christ's light in your life - I mean really stopped to ponder the changes which occurred - you probably stand amazed at all the ways he has "enhanced" your life in ways you never thought possible. His light did more than just brighten our darkness - it dispelled it from areas of our life we didn't even know there was darkness within!  What we didn't possess, Christ brought - light and life.

This life we now live is possible because of what Christ brings and "shares" in our life - the resource of his life is something we partake of not through any effort of our own, but all because of his effort.  It is like the one who hunts for the entire tribe to benefit, or grows grains for the entire community to enjoy bread.  All did not work for it, but all enjoy it as it is given so there may be "common enjoyment" of it.  We do not work for what we enjoy so much in this life with Jesus - it is given freely so all may come into common enjoyment of it.

Along this line, our writer reminds us we not only have new life in common, we have this "washing away of our sins" in common.  We find ourselves grace-filled because of the actions of another on our behalf.  As a child, mom had to wash me in the tub - simply because I could not see where I needed to be washed, nor did I realize the benefit of being in the tub. I was content to live in my dirty state - but she knew how much better I'd feel after the bath. I think Jesus kind of works that way in our lives at first - washing over us with his grace time and time again - not because we know where we need it to flow, but because he does!

Grace has a way of creeping into the crevices of our lives - even where we don't realize we need it to go!  Maybe this is part of the blessing of grace - it knows no bounds.  It isn't shy about going into "dark places" in our lives - washing away the things which gathered there which no longer belong hidden.  Grace doesn't uncover what is hidden to expose it so we will experience pain, but because we all have one thing in common as it comes to our sin - we need to be free of it and we cannot do it alone.

Grace can be trusted - even when the confession is hard.  One thing we humans have in common - we have all sinned.  One thing God affords to us from his vast resources is renewed grace for all past sins, present sins, and future sins.  Now, that may seem a little contrary to what we know about being a "Christian" - because aren't we supposed to stop sinning?  Yes, we are.  The truth is - we will continue to sin, maybe not in the same ways, but until the day we find ourselves walking in his presence in glory, we will still struggle with temptation and require grace to both overcome it and walk away from it.

Grace isn't exactly light, but it is an adjunct to light.  God's presence is the light we receive - his grace is the enabling force which helps us to walk in this light and to enjoy the freedom light brings.  If you have ever stumbled a little in the dark of night, you know how "halting" your walk is when you don't know exactly what is in the room in respect to where you are now.  Sure, you have a general idea, but just walk in darkness for a while and you will realize the painfulness of stubbing your toes more than you might like!  God's light is what removes the darkness, but his grace is what enables us to walk freely.  

We may not all speak the same language, or go to the same church.  We may not all dress alike, or even have the same interests in life.  One thing is for sure - we all have sin in common and we all need to experience the freedom of his love, light, and grace.  Just sayin!