A Curious Order
I John 1:6-7 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
The beginning of I John is concerned with describing the Light that had come into the world, Jesus Christ. The description in the first few verses is nearly as rapturous as the beginning of John’s gospel, but just more earthbound. Then he brings in the contrast between light and dark with the goal of encouraging God’s people to walk in the light.
Then John makes a statement with a curious order: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” One might assume that the middle portion of that sentence was almost unnecessary, or certainly shouldn’t separate the two ideas we are more used to hearing together. Shouldn’t the statement be more like “If we walk in the light…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin”?
When we read this verse, we might think of Hebrews 9:14 (“…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”), that clearly equates moving forward in Christ with the continual effects of His cleansing blood. We can easily understand that we can “walk in the light” as His blood cleanses us from sin.
But what does “fellowship with one another” have to do with this? As it turns out, our genuine love and connection with one another is greatly dependent on our walking in the light, being close to Him and obeying His word. We may see these things as separate issues, but this scripture makes it clear that the Lord sees them as intrinsically connected.
John actually mentions the issue earlier in an oft-ignored phrase in v. 3: “that which we have seen and heard [referring to the life of Christ] we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us [emphasis mine]; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” One of the reasons John is declaring the truth about Jesus is that the listener would not only have fellowship with the Father and His Son, but with “us,” the other believers.
We sometimes think of fellowship with others as the cherry on the top of the sundae, or an option that we can take or not. If we are to believe what’s said about Jesus so that we can fellowship, if we are told to walk in the light so that we can fellowship, then it must be important to God. He sees it as all of a piece with being forgiven, and with loving. It’s all one interrelated expression to Him.
If you want more of God, you may want to look at how your fellowship is going. If you decide that fellowship isn’t a big deal after all, you may want to look at your relationship with God.
Prayer: Lord, I see the importance of fellowship in Your word here. Help me to see the connection between walking in the light and fellowshipping, and help me to embrace fellowship with Your heart.