Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Light of life

Missionary women often wrote about converts who were "rescued from darkness," and "brought into the glorious light." The repetition of language is striking as I'm re-reading letters and updates sent by early Pentecostal women to their supporters and families.

It's highly unpopular today -- offensive even -- to refer to other religions as "dark" or their adherents as being "blinded by the Devil." Further, it's considered prejudicial to say they have "come to the light of Christ" upon becoming Christian believers. But missionaries in the early twentieth century had no such hang-ups or demands to be politically correct. They said what they believed, that those without Jesus were utterly without salvation or spiritual sight.

I've noticed a pattern in most denominations: there's no point in being a missionary when missionary language is "cleaned up," where thinking shifts from bringing good news to the desperate to adding Christian myths to people who already are doing pretty well, and when the desperation of sharing the gospel dissipates. There's good in serving as a social worker, psychologist, educator, or helper. 

But following a call as a missionary thrust into a harvest with apostolic fervor to "rescue the perishing" and share the light of the gospel of Christ? Nope. Those fanatics disappear into a milieu of denominational do-gooders. The Story becomes secondary or vanishes altogether.

I'm refreshed by reading the letters. Through their suffering, through their rejection by the people they love, through their hardships, and because of their stamina, the women ground me in reality. 

They show that no matter how culture changes, human nature stays the same. Our condition is blindness, lostness, corruption, and an inclination to wickedness.

Yet, Truth also remains. The need to share God's loving provision through Jesus Christ endures.

Whom will you tell the Story today? Who is desperately in need of Good News? 

Read more:
*You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. Psalm 18:28–29 NLT

*When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 NIV

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