“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”1 John 1:5 NLT
John often highlights the “lightness” of Christ. Especially in his gospel, he concludes his introduction to Christ by noting that the “Word” of God became flesh. It was the light of all men and the darkness could not “overcome” it. Here we see that emphasis on the idea that God is light. This is due to the culture of John’s day, which was Proto-Gnostic. It embraced an idea that God was light, but believed Jesus and humans to be an emanation of that light. They believed that Jesus wasn’t light. He was not the source of light, but something akin to a ray of light leaving the sun. In turn they did damage to his message. Jesus taught that he was unique and that his way of being right with God was unique. He taught that he IS the Light, and that he and the Father (the Source) are one. However, the common teaching was that Jesus was not unique. It was taught that humans only needed to recognize how much like Christ they were and this would trigger their innate ability to return to the source. This is not unlike today’s false messaging of a self-actualized salvation and the universal Christ. But this only enslaves men further as they quickly realize that their own salvation is too much to handle. It soon becomes clear that the “wages of their sin is death” and all of their supposed righteousness amounts to “filthy rags,” when measured against the standards of a righteous God. When we try to control our world, it burns down quickly. This is because, in truth, Christ is not an emanation, nor are we. This false messaging encouraged the idea that we are our own salvation, which was damaging in an already “works-based” breeding ground of the early Christian Jewish community. It is damaging now. The reason why we can have salvation and reconciliation is precisely because there is something different about Jesus. We cannot climb up out of the mire of our sin, we have to be saved from it by someone who is more than it. Jesus is more than we are. He is the source itself, not a derivative emanation. The beginning of our salvation is confession of this fact, not denial of it.
This post first appeared on JoshMcGary.com