Afraid of the Dark?: Moon Walking

Posted below is the manuscript from my sermon that was preached 10/20. The full sermon will be posted here.

Walking by the Light of the Moon

I grew up on a farm on 25 acres. We had a house that sat on a hill right in the middle of the property overlooking fields, woods, and a pond. We had a gravel driveway way a mile long that divided us and the neighboring farm. One of my favorite things to do was go walking or just being outside at night. I loved the smell of country air. I had a amazing big tall tree that I would sit under, lean up against the trunk, sit in the soft grass, and look at the stars. I would spread out a blanket and even fall asleep outside. The air was cool. You could hear the crickets, cars driving down the highway in the distance, an occasional dog bark up the street, it was peaceful. I loved being out there in the dark at night.Sometimes I would get up and go walking down the driveway. My favorite nights were when there was a full moon. I would get up and just go. My eyes were adjusted and the moon lit up everything. I could look out and see deer and raccoons and other little critters. It felt natural. Sights and smells of the night, peaceful. It was great. Walking by the light of the moon, I could make it down and back the driveway with no worries. It was majestic.

Sometimes I’d try this even if there wasn’t a full moon and usually I couldn’t get very far before I’d turn back. I couldn’t see any nature and I was always in danger of tripping over pot holes in our driveway. Maybe I’d break out the flashlight and continue the walk, now I had light. I never really enjoyed flashlight night walks. I couldn’t see any nature. You can only see so far. You see that 5-10 feet in front of you I had a nice path and it provides an okay amount of light, but because of the flashlight. I couldn’t see off into the distance. Any time you shined a light off into the distance, an animal would be scared away. Even with a flashlight, my foot would catch a pothole every now and then and I’d stumble and many times I’d turn around and go back. The walk lost its lure and luster. It was trying to light my own way. It felt artificial. It wasn’t natural. Something just didn’t seem right. I was trying to light my own way and missing the beauty of nature.

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The moon is much better light. Walking by the light of the moon was natural. It was right. It was almost as if God designed it that way, to provide light during the night. The moon simply provides light in the darkness by reflecting of the sun. John, writing to Christians, illustrates a beautiful picture of what our spiritual journey is like when we walk by the light of the moon. Scripture will shine a light into the darkness of our lives.

1 John 2:1-6 (NLT) (ESV) better picture

1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (NLT)

A fuller picture of the passage:

1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (ESV)

Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, Jesus was a reflection of the true light of the Father for us here on earth. He pointed to the Father. He shows us the true nature of the Father. He is the advocate for us. The best walks in life are when we are walking in the moon light. The best walks in life are when we keep in step with Jesus and you let your eyes adjust to Christ’s light and stop trying to light up your own path. When we walk in Jesus, Christ lights the way for us. When we keep his commandments, that is truly knowing him. Keeping commandments are love. Think of the 10 commandments, first 4 demonstrate a love for God and then the last 6 are love for others. God’s essence, his character is that of love.

We see best through the darkness, when the light doesn’t come from ourselves. Verse 4 is like saying I’m walking in the light, but I’m using a flashlight. It’s a false sense of confidence. We look at where the light leads us. Walking in the moon light allows us to see more. We see the big picture, not just the 5 to 10 feet in front of us. We have a better chance of not tripping over those potholes. We see that keeping commandments isn’t some weight of Donts. Being in Christ is more than saying that I’m a Christian or I go to church. Being a Christian, is walking the same way that Jesus walked. When we abide in him we are walking in the light he provides. In long walks in this dark world, he is the moonlight that lights up the beauty, majesty, and the path.

One reasons why I love 1 John is because he wants to make this as clear as possible to us. We like to pull out the flashlight. We like to be in control of the situation, rather than give up control and walk in the light of the moon.

We have to take an honest look at our lives. We have to evaluate. Basically, John is saying look at the fruit in your life. Look at how you are walking. Are you scaring the animals off? Are you trying to light your own way and miss the beauty.

What does it look like to walk by the light of the moon? John answers that question. He is very straight forward about it.

Read 1 John 2:7-11 (ESV)

7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I have always been told love is a choice. You can love someone by your action. I believe this is true. I believe it is essential to success long terms in relationships. But I also believe this…

Matt Chandler, Explicit Gospel pg. 128 “Love is a verb, but it is also a feeling. The problem is that our desire to love is overpowered by the desire of self.”

Do we actually care about other people? Are we loving them with our actions, but hating them with our hearts? Are we loving them in our hearts, but hating them in our actions?

A great example is Jonah.

Jonah…who he was, what he did and provide backstory.

  • Jonah was a prophet in the OT
  • He has a whole book of the bible devoted to his story
  • Most of us know the story of Jonah
  • God sends him to Nineveh
  • He runs away
  • Sailors throw him overboard
  • Gets swallowed by the fish
  • 3 days and 3 nights he is in there
  • spits up and goes and preaches

Nineveh repents. And that’s where we tend to stop. I want to read chapter 4

1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2 So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 3 Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

4 The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

God grew a plant up over Jonah. Then God had a worm eat it and it died. Jonah became angry at God.

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

10 Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

End of story

The last time we ever hear about Jonah. He is mad. Jonah gets ticked that God was gracious. He was more grieved about the stuff that he lost than the people that were lost. WHY?? Why was he upset? He was a prophet of God.

–Because people weren’t getting what he thought they deserved?

–Did he wanted them to suffer for what they had done wrong?

—–I try really hard to do the right thing and obey God, but what’s the point?

—-Someone else makes a mistake and they seem to get away with it.

——I didn’t catch a break like the Ninevites did and escape the consequences. Its stupid they got away with sinning. They got to have all the fun and still get all the reward. I was good and did what I was told. I did what I was supposed to and still didn’t get it as good as them. It wasn’t any fun.

Jonah’s desire for self and self righteousness was overpowering the desire for love.

John is saying, Christians…

—Are we like that? Are we losing the battle in our mind to really love people? Or are we trying to fake it?

—-Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we don’t get excited that he repents of his sin and escapes God’s wrath?

—-Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we don’t get excited that he returns home after he squanders all our fathers wealth?

—-Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we don’t share living water and they are dying of thirst?

—Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we don’t give them the bread of life and they are starving of hunger?

—Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we don’t confess our wrongs and wrong doing?

—Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we lie to ourselves and claim that we’re alright and we don’t sin?

—Christian, are we really loving our brother when we sin and then ignore the consequences it has on others?

—Christian, are we really loving our brother, when we keep people out of God’s kingdom by not walking in the ways the Jesus walked?

Because I’m a post-modern child I tend to look at everything in twos. I see two sides to everything. I like the big picture and the personal application.

I think John is clarifying walking with Christ. We are fallen and we like to twist things. So something even as simple as walked as Jesus walked will get twisted.

John is telling Christians you are either walking by the light of the moon or you are moon walking away from Christ. Now let me clarify that.

Can anyone here moon walk? I’m not very good at it and I’m not going to try. My wife advised me against embarrassing her. I practiced at home and she said you better not do that on stage.

This is what a moonwalk looks like (I moonwalked).

Many times when we walk with Christ as Christians, we are moonwalking.

(Illustration) Timeline      God——————–Sin

God is this way. He is holy. He is “this” direction. Man and God are separated by sin. We hear gospel that God is love and send his Son to die to atone for our sins, to be the propitiation for our sins, and our response is two things: we either affirm it and it compels and we do something about it or it hardens the heart. We are all on a journey with God, going two directions.

We are both facing him and walking with him forward, or we are walking the wrong way. People of the world who haven’t accepted Christ are facing this way.

As Christian, we like to face him and go backwards. We say be believe, but we want to hold onto our own sin and selfishness. I see you. I know you are there and you want me to go that way, but I’m going to go this way. It’s easier. It’s more fun. I’m too busy. I like this better. John calls us liars when we do that. John says walk as Christ walked. Christ walked forward. We must keep in step with him.

We can’t say we are in Christ when we are moonwalking away from him. When we moon walk in our Christian life, we are sinning. Plain and simple.

-Does the gospel change how you live? Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ changing your heart? Is love still a conscious choice you have to make, or is it a natural feeling? Are you feeling a burning desire of compassion for people? Are you walking in obedience, not because you are told to or because its what you are supposed to do, or are you walking forward because you love Jesus?

Son is a reflection of the Father. It’s now our turn. God now gave us that mission.

When we obey Jesus we become the moon. We become light for others. We become a reflection of the Son (Sun). We light up this dark world. Those around us see Jesus. We can obey God because of what John writes in verses 1-2 in chapter 2:

1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

If we do sin…

The goal is not to not sin. The goal is to keep his commandments. The goal is to walk in the light of the moon, obeying, loving your brother and sister, and not causing other people to stumble.

This is how Jesus walked. He walked in love. He fulfilled the law by walking in love.

-He laid down his life for others.

-He took a stand for God’s commandments.

-He was beaten and afflicted for us

-He came to seek and save the lost

-He was the light of the world. The light of life.

Jesus says, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, love one another.”

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Is your life lining up with Jesus’? Are you walking with him, Christian, or are you moon walking away?

Here is the response.

Go back to chapter 1 verse 7-10 (NLT)

7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

-We all are sinners. We all have sinned. We cannot deny either of these.

Do not be deceived. God loves you and he desires a relationship with you. He wants to walk forward with you. He wants you as a Christian to walk by the light of the moon, obeying his commandments of love. He wants to light up the path for you so that you can reflect Him, and light up this dark world.

Christian, are you walking by the light of the moon or are you moonwalking away from Christ?

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