GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 565 • September 23, 2020
SEND THE LIGHT, TAKE THE LIGHT, BE THE LIGHT
There was a time – I remember it well – not really all that long ago as we measure time, when the missionary journeys of apostle Paul were a favorite topic of study, when we looked forward to the visit of some missionary who would justify our support of his work with reports of the wonderful results being enjoyed in the places to which we sent him, and would stir our hearts with desire to “go and do likewise.” A once popular spiritual song, ubiquitous in mission-minded congregations, urged us to hear that “Macedonian call,” reminiscent of Paul’s experience (Acts 16:9-10), to feel that we too are “called” preach to the unevangelized people in every place – even in places that might be a threat to our peace and safety. We would sing, “Oh Lord, prepare me to be a missionary.” We would acknowledge hearing the call and would have some ephemeral dreams of going forth to conquer the world and win it for Christ. Remember those days? Remember how the thoughts of a “lost and dying world” tugged at our hearts? Remember how those visiting missionaries with their witness of souls being won would ignite a fire in us that had us digging deep into our pockets to make sure the Macedonian call could be and would be answered?
I say those dreams were ephemeral – quickly passing and soon forgotten. That love of and desire for involvement in missions has dimmed in many church congregations today – let’s hope it is not dead or dying. Can we trim our lamps, replenish the fuel for them, hold them higher and cast a brighter light for the Lord into the deepening darkness of the world? Is there sufficient motivation to get us re-started? Are we so confident of our own salvation and so complacently uncaring about the salvation of others that we are willing to join the do nothing crowd? Now we sing, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine” more often than we sing about being called to missions. Perhaps it is time to get up off your blessed assurance and do something, get back to being “a worker for the Lord … in the kingdom of the Lord.”
Get off your blessed assurance and do something.
What we will say in the remainder of this essay applies both givers and receivers. Salvation requires one to receive the light and respond properly to it. Certain of Jesus’ parables, such as the sower, the seed, and the soils (Matthew 13:3-9 and 18-23) teach how important it is to deliver the proper message and respond to it properly when it comes. Hearing/receiving it is not enough, but it is a necessary beginning. One should pray that grace may every where abound and want to share the light, make sure others can enjoy the same blessings one has received.
Charles H. Gabriel’s powerful song about the response to the “Macedonian call” that still comes ringing o’er the restless waves makes several suggestions about how and why to send the light. We are borrowing his idea to expand his meaning. Keep in mind that all these suggestions apply only to one who has heard and is applying to himself the light of the Lord and wants to share the light with others. If possible, we should take the light. Those who call us are no doubt hoping we can and will bring the light of the Lord to them, come in person to deliver the message. It would be good for us to put a face – our own face – on the message. Printed words can be and often are effective but words personally presented by a living person are exponentially more powerful and effective. Personal presentation also has a powerful effect on the messenger. Apostle Paul wrote powerful letters, such as the one to the Romans. But he often declared in his letters how he desired to present his message in person and see what effect the gospel produced in the lives of those who heard it (Romans 1:9-13). Being able to give immediate answers to questions arising from the message is also a positive plus for the messenger. But again, as Paul himself stated, he was hindered or prevented from making a personal visit. In such a case one does the next best thing.
If you cannot take the light in person, then send the light. If necessary send it in a form that the receiver can understand and apply. Preferably, find some person who is capable and willing to take the light, to go and present the message and send him – provide support so that he is able go in your place and with your blessing. If we may refer once more to Paul, he received support from the Christians and the church in Philippi that enabled him to go to additional places to preach the gospel – he thanked God for their fellowship in the gospel and they shared with him the results and rewards of that fellowship (Philippians 1:2-5, 4:15-17).
There is no shame but only glory for enablers who send the light while supporting those who take the light into the world. What both are doing is trying to live the light. Jesus said his disciples should let your light so shine that others will see what you do – see your good works – and glorify your Father in heaven – and your Lord the Christ of God (Matthew 5:16).
What is the intended and possible result of living and sharing the light of the Lord? The light is meant to be received, taken and sent to others who in turn will receive it and share it with others (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, 2 Timothy 2:2 and 4:2) until the world is lightened and the darkness of ignorance disappears from God’s earth. Share it until no accountable person can honestly say he has not heard and does not know about God and Christ and the Spirit of God and the word and will of God. Of course there is no guarantee that everyone who hears it will believe it and obey it – God has endowed all with freedom of will and choice. Some always have and some always will exercise their option to refuse the Lord and abide in darkness. But we cannot force the response of those to whom we present the gospel. Each one who hears is responsible for his own response to it. Here is what we do know: one cannot call on the Lord for salvation unless he knows and believes in Him, and none can know unless he hears, and none will hear unless we live and share the light (Romans 10:10-15).
LIGHTS FOR THE LORD
Holes in the darkness we would be
O Lord of light, O Lord of love.
The light and love that come from Thee
Who brought it to us from above,
Who opened up our eyes to see
And opened up our hearts to love.
Curtains of ignorance and doubt
Hide from our eyes, hide from our hearts
The Lord we willingly shut out.
The Lord from whom we stand apart
And whom we cannot live without,
Now threatens from us to depart.
Out of the dark abyss of hate
Can we still climb? We try to crawl,
But selfishness does not abate,
Self pleasing sin has caused our fall.
Have our eyes opened Lord too late?
Is there a way to save us all?
Dressed in God’s armor we can find
Salvation and security.
Protected body, soul, and mind
In Christ we have immunity.
Our ever watchful Lord will bind
All threats to soil our purity.
We would punch holes of living hope
Into the darkness of despair
When we with troubles cannot cope,
Life seems destroyed beyond repair
And victory exceeds our scope,
Punch holes of our God’s loving care.
Holes in the darkness. Lord we yearn
To be in Christ, to be Christ-filled,
To overflow with what we learn,
With Him His cause on earth to build,
By overcoming with Him earn
The heav’n that for us He has willed.
– Gerald Cowan