Salt & Light of World
Witness, by Life
Jesus stressed the positive effect we can have on others when he said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” But if sin dims our testimony so that our “light” is no longer visible, some of those might have influenced for Christ may drift on in spiritual darkness.
On a dark and stormy night, with waves piling up like mountains on Lake Erie, a boat rocked and plunged near the Cleveland harbor. “Are we on course?” asked the captain, seeing only one beacon from the lighthouse. “Quite sure, sir,” replied the officer at the helm. “Where are the lower lights?” “Gone out, sir.” “Can we make the harbor?” “We must, or perish!” came the reply. With a steady hand and a stalwart heart, the officer headed the ship toward land.
But, in the darkness, he missed the channel and the vessel was dashed to pieces on the rocks. Many lives were lost in a watery grave. This incident moved Philip P. Bliss to write the familiar hymn, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning.” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Imagine that you're walking through your neighborhood supermarket when you approach a display featuring a new kind of shoe polish. The attending salesperson grabs your attention with a big smile, and before you can politely move on to the peanut butter you get the following line: "This miracle of modern science will bring luster to dull leather and prolong the life of your shoes. Its secret lies in the rare mixture of oils extracted from the bone marrow of a sperm whale. The result is so good that if your neighbor runs out of polish, you won't be embarrassed to lend him yours. Sure it costs more -- $3.75 for a small can. But you really can't afford not to buy it." Up to this point you've been patient with him. But now you've had your fill. So you say, "I'm sure you believe in your fancy wax. But so what! From what I can see, your shoe polish doesn't do any better job than the brand I usually buy for $3.00 less. If what you're selling is so great, why do your shoes look no different than mine?
Our efforts to interest others in the Christian life are sometimes just as unconvincing. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
One Sunday morning in 1865, a black man entered a fashionable church in Richmond, Virginia. When Communion was served, he walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar. A rustle of resentment swept the congregation. How dare he! After all, believers in that church used the common cup. Suddenly a distinguished layman stood up, stepped forward to the altar, and knelt beside the black man. With Robert E. Lee setting the example, the rest of the congregation soon followed his lead.
Today in the Word, September, 1991, p. 15.
During the Nazi occupation of his country in WWII, King Christian X of Denmark noticed a Nazi flag flying over a Danish public building. He immediately called the German commandant, demanding that the flag be taken down at once. The commandant refused. "Then a soldier will go and take it down." said the king. "He will be shot," threatened the commandant. "I think not," replied the king, "for I shall be the soldier." Within minutes the flag was taken down.
Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 13.
A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.
For many years Monterey, a California coast town, was a pelican's paradise. As the fishermen cleaned their fish, they flung the offal to the pelicans. The birds grew fat, lazy, and contented. Eventually, however the offal was utilized, and there were no longer snacks for the pelicans. When the change came the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves. They waited around and grew gaunt and thin. Many starved to death. They had forgotten how to fish for themselves. The problem was solved by importing new pelicans from the south, birds accustomed to foraging for themselves. They were placed among their starving cousins, and the newcomers immediately started catching fish. Before long, the hungry pelicans followed suit, and the famine was ended.
Bits & Pieces, June 23, 1994, p. 17.
Bill Hybels related a story of integrity in Leadership Magazine. It illustrates proper humility in a leader. One evening I stopped by the church just to encourage those who were there rehearsing for the spring musical. I didn't intent to stay long, so I parked my car next to the entrance. After a few minutes, I ran back to my car and drove home.
The next morning I found a note in my office mailbox. It read: A small thing, but Tuesday night when you came to rehearsal, you parked in the "No Parking" area. A reaction from one of my crew (who did not recognize you after you got out of your car) was, "There's another jerk in the 'No Parking' area!" We try hard not to allow people -- even workers -- to park anywhere other than the parking lots. I would appreciate your cooperation, too. It was signed by a member of our maintenance staff.
(This man's) stock went up in my book because he had the courage to write to me about what could have been a slippage in my character. And he was right on the mark. As I drove up that night, I had thought, I shouldn't park here, but after all, I am the pastor. That translates: "I'm an exception to the rules." But that employee wouldn't allow me to sneak down the road labeled "I'm an exception." I'm not the exception to church rules or any of God's rules. Exemplary conduct means encouraging others to imitate us, even in the small matters.
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, pp. 57-58.
I'm not much of a gardener. Once I took a seed catalog and started out the door. "Where are you going with that?" my wife asked. "I'm going to show it to my tomatoes," I explained.
A brief, simple, but expressive eulogy was pronounce by Martin Luther upon a pastor at Zwickau in 1522 named Nicholas Haussmann. "What we preach, he lived," said the great reformer.
I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk, but they do shine.
When Gen. George C. Marshall took command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, he found the post in a generally run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for specific improvements, he simply got out his own paintbrushes, lawn equipment, etc., and went to work on his personal quarters. The other officers and men, first on his block, then throughout the post, did the same thing, and Fort Benning was brightened up. Leadership by example.
To have unquestioned reliance upon a pastor or other spiritual leader can lead to embarrassment and even bitter disillusionment. I was reminded of this recently when I came across an interesting item about President Coolidge. Once he invited some friends from Vermont to dine at the White House. They were worried about their table manners, so they decided to do everything their host did. All went well until coffee was served. Coolidge poured his into the saucer. The guests did the same. The President added sugar and cream. So did the visitors. Then Coolidge leaned over and placed his saucer on the floor for the cat.
Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor's saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior. Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others.
When I was a small boy, I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of Chicago. One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to Al Capone. In the prohibition years, Capone's rule was absolute. The local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But single handedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christina layman and without any government support, organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens who were determined to take Mr. Capone to court and put him away. During the months that the Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch's life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was the instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his life to live out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the service, my father, a Chicago businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometime I'd catch a tear in my father's eye. For my dad and for all of us this was and is what authentic living is all about.
Bruce Larson, in Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.124-5.
Percentage of American teens who say they want to be like their parents: 39%.
Charis Conn, Ed., What Counts: The Complete Harper's Index.
Children who see physical violence between their parents are six times more likely to abuse their own spouses after they marry. If those children were also hit by their parents as teenagers, they are 12 times more likely to abuse their spouses.
Bottom Line, in Homemade, November, 1985.
A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves--the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church and Sunday School.
Warren Mueller in Homemade, May, 1990.
Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element. Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor. When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride--common table salt--the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor. Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines. On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous. Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the gospel. When truth and love are combined in an individual or a church, however, then we have what Jesus called "the salt of the earth," and we're able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our faith.
David H. Johnson.