On the Corner

The light has come

by Bob Docter –

The magnificent scene on the cover of this issue of New Frontier in no way illustrates a true picture of southern California. We live mostly in an arid climate. Already the thermometer reveals temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. Parched, waterless lawns slowly turn a crispy brown on their way to a dirt encrusted demise.

Here, we have two seasons – hot and windy – or if you prefer, light and dark. As the hallowed eve of All Saints Day has finished spinning its web over a dying October, November, now back on Standard Time, appeared with pristine azure skies and a golden California sun. We have traded the slowly increasing darkness of long, warm, friendly patio evenings for brilliant morning sunlight that seems to jar us awake, force us from our beds, and get us moving.

No longer shall we move slowly in the darkness of a hesitant dawn; no leisurely breakfasts eaten while watching our reflection in window pane mirrors whose background darkness shuts out the torment of unfinished tasks. Now, it is hustle and go. The truth presents its own evidence in the clear morning light. There are things to do, people to meet, friends to speak with, a sermon to be lived.

The light reveals the looseness of my laxity. Or is it only my selfish, unproductive guilt.

I am forced to choose between an attraction for darkness and an affection for light.

I choose the light. I see more in the light. I have increased self awareness in the light. My passion for justice awakens.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light.

I hope they have their eyes open.

Injustice pervades the world. It hides within the uncaring darkness of light evaders where righteousness does not reach. Its people, in their continued self-centeredness choose to ignore the poor, to forget the sick and suffering, to abandon the oppressed imprisoned, to forsake weary widows and weeping women held in slavery. They fail the children, turn their backs on the addicted, discount the illiterate, and in their smug, self-righteous manner complain about the preacher or the abandonment of old hymns or the style of dress by young people. They huddle in their dark corners and whisper together. In the darkness of their stumbling arrogance they don’t know where they are going. Where is their passion, their empathy, their gratitude for what the “light-bringers” brought them? Where is the courage of their convictions to act in the cause of justice.

Their choice of darkness has brought them to a place of ignorance of even the meaning of the term.

Thousands of Salvationists around the world live in the light and bring its saving power to others. I fear, however, too many of us simply pull on our “Sunday clothes” and head off to sing our songs of a selfish salvation.

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
(Isaiah 59:15)

General Albert Orsborn (R), reminds us that “The Savior of men came to seek and to save the souls who were lost to the good – and still, the laborers are few, still, souls go without bread, still eyes weep where the darkness is deep, and still straying sheep to be led.” … and then, these immortal words …

Except I am moved with compassion,
How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.

This call to action with acts of compassion clearly identifies the crucial need for “burning love” in each of us. Justice is synonymous with love. It is God’s measuring line for humanity.

Jesus used several metaphors in an attempt to describe his mission and role on earth. All of them start with the words “I am …” Each of them is very powerful and rich with the truth of his Messiahship. My favorite is his statement in John’s Gospel (8:12): I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Following Jesus is not easy. He didn’t always go where it was safe. He associated with people of questionable reputation. He repudiated the establishment and made himself vulnerable. He changed the culture by clarifying the true meaning of the norms by which the culture had been weaved. His primary associates were common men of no reputation, but, to whom he delegated the responsibility of carrying on his work after his death. He changed the world by shining a great light on it.

His message, often taught metaphorically, contained important meanings individuals would have to discern for themselves. Somehow, his genuineness, his caring, his certainty, his consistency impacted people so profoundly that they changed the way they lived. He said we need to love God and to show that love by being obedient to his will. He said we needed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves – and to express that love with genuine caring and justice.

The light has come.

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