To those who call themselves Messengers of Light
Let your little light shine, shine, shine
Let your little light shine oh my Lord
Maybe someone’s down in the valley trying to get home, trying to get home.
Have you ever noticed that newer cars seem to have brighter headlights? They have a different kind of bulb that throws its light out farther and brighter in front of the driver, brilliantly illuminating what is to come.
You are the Army’s newest officers. How bright is your light? What’s the power of your bulb? In what direction does it focus? On you? On others? What does that light say to those on whom it shines? “Look at me?” Or, “look out?” Or, hopefully, “I want to send you a message of love and renewal.”
Jesus sent messages everywhere he traveled, even the cross. It wasn’t so much done with words. It was his behavior that shook up his detractors. Eugene Peterson even wrote an entire book intending to reveal God’s Message. It does. Now you must be ready to do the same.
Abandon the notion that you can accomplish this with words. Jesus’ words weren’t the most important message of God. What he was—his basic character, his actions, his love for humanity, his unwillingness to fit perfectly with the common culture, his desire to reveal God—these were the major aspects of his life.
Jesus seemed not to be bound by mankind’s rules, but he honored most of them. He seemed unburdened by the culture, which he knew perfectly. Where it fit God’s pleasure, he obeyed. Where it interfered, he did what was necessary to accomplish his objective. He did not behave in this way to prove a point or model it for others. Recognize, also, that you are part of a great international organization that also expects certain behaviors. The goal is to seek to emulate Christ—to be like Jesus, and thus achieve a measure of holiness.
John Gowans focused on this in his oft-used chorus: “To be like Jesus” (Songbook of The Salvation Army, #328).
To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
In every thought and deed,
This is my aim, my creed;
To be like Jesus!
This hope possesses me,
His Spirit helping me,
Like Him I’ll be.
Notice the word “hope” in the second line. We humans aren’t perfect, but to be possessed by that “hope” sets you off in the right direction. Don’t negate the reality that if you really want to, you can come much closer than you expect.
In his book “Sanctified Sanity,” R. David Rightmire examines the life and teachings of Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, who never commanded a territory but stimulated, taught and explained the holiness movement in The Salvation Army.
If you’re intending to “let your little light shine” in this appointment, read Philippians 2:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor. Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.
Think of yourself the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God, but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. (MSG)
Here are some thoughts I wrote for those marching forward into the new millennium at the turn of the century as they, too, were commissioned as officers for work in a helping environment.
You need to know why you want to build a salvation army, because if it’s for your own glorification, abandon the thought. Don’t try to do everything asked of you alone. Keep God in the act and read your Bible more. Learn how to lead. Keep studying his Word. Discuss it with others.
Be a consistent listener. If you don’t know answers to questions put before you, admit it and then find the answer and report it to the questioner. Strive to be mature. Understand that Christianity is a relationship. Know your own relationship skills. If you find it difficult to establish new relationships, pretend it’s easy, altogether doable, and essential in your new job. Never give up on other human beings. Don’t be fearful about starting something new.
Understand where and why liberty ends and the chain of command begins.