Preach the GospelBy Jim Allen
A pastor once said, "At all times preach the gospel, and when you have to, use words."
I like that saying. It speaks to the heart. It defines profound truth. These words help refocus our busy lives on what is important - our witness! We are reminded to be what we are, living epistles read of all men (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16)."
Christianity is all about walking with God. He is the source that keeps our light shining before men. But, what happens when we don't?
Several years ago a well-known televangelist, with an international audience, admitted to a sexual scandal. When exposed, the pastor wept in tearful remorse realizing he had dishonored both God's name and character including his family, friends, and church. His admission eventually led to his defrocking from the church. Perhaps you remember the incident.
Of course, the world loves this kind of Christian charade because for them it's vindication of their unbelief. It is also confirmation that our moral failure is no different from theirs. What a shame and what an awful indictment on the God of our salvation. The damaged caused by this pastor was crushing to his family and ministry, an affront to the church, an obstacle to the cause of Great Commission, and a wounding blow to the Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).
As the moon passes through the night sky reflecting the light of the sun, so too does the believer pass through a darken world reflecting the light of Son of God. Although we are the lesser light in the scheme of things, we are nevertheless the only light some men will ever see.
It is not always easy to walk in this dark world without tripping and falling like the pastor. After all, the world is dark and a frightening place. Our light can dim at times. The evil breezes of deception and temptation pursue our flickering light, causing it at times to nearly go out. The pathway is hard to see some days and nearly impossible to walk when our light dims.
It's no fun to mess up. We've all done it plenty of times. And, it is no fun to watch someone you love mess up because we too at one time or another did or was tempted to do the same. We can ask for forgiveness and even question God's goodness. But then, isn't God always good and always willing to forgive (Psalm 32:1-2; Matthew 26:28)? And, despite the fact we live in a fallen, broken, and twisted world, isn't he always nearby to lend a hand? He will always help us get up and return the dim and flickering light to the doorway of our heart to shine brightly again.
While most of us will never experience the heartache of those close to the unfaithful pastor, I am sure we can think of a time when we or someone we knew stopped being a light to the world. They took their eyes off Jesus to gaze upon the ways of men, losing sight of their path to walk as a light bearer to those same men.
The takeaway is that while we do not always witness to everyone, we are mindful of those watching our walk with Christ - they know where we go and what we do. We know they are listening to our every word - they listen to see if we speak truth and then live the truth by being honorable in all our ways. And they know we will speak to them, when the time is right, about the light of hope burning in us for Christ (2 Samuel 22:29; John 1:3-5).
If we do no more than bear the light of Christ, we will preach the gospel; and, when necessary use words.
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