I am struck by John’s use of imagery in this passage. The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. This is a beautiful picture of our journey with Christ throughout the whole of life. John Calvin once said, “our wisdom consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” When we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, we give all we know of ourselves to all we know of God. Throughout our lives, our knowledge both of ourselves and of God continues to increase. In this way, it is difficult to know which gives rise to the other. But the end result is that the darkness begins to pass away, and the true light, which is Christ in us, that was already shining, begins to come through more and more.
As John points out, if we claim to be in the light and still hate our brother, we are still in darkness. Through the process of growing in awareness of ourselves and allowing God to bring us into health, our relationships with others begin to change. We begin to see those who frustrate us, anger us, bring out our worst qualities in a new light and start to love them in new ways. It is this change that eliminates, ever so slowly, our causes for stumbling.
Father, lead me to a greater vision of who you are, and in doing so, may I see myself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and transform me more into your image so that your light may shine through the darkness.