Are You Lighting A Candle Or Cursing The Darkness?

Sixty-five years ago James Keller lit a candle. Today, we can still see that light.

Keller was a priest with the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, popularly known as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. Rather than go to China as a missionary, Father Keller’s “assignment” was to help recruit students and raise money for Maryknoll missions.

For years Keller did just that; he convinced people to help missionaries. But then his talk began to change. He said, “I began almost subconsciously to emphasize not only what my listeners could do to assist missionaries by prayers and finances, but also how they could play a missionary role themselves.”[1]

Keller coined the word “Christopher” (from the Greek words for Christbearer) to describe the person who applied the principles of the Gospel in the marketplace of everyday life. Later he formed the movement known as the Christophers, whose motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” is famous around the world.

First-century Christians in Rome were accustomed to darkness. Many lived in the shadowy evil of persecution. Suffering a steady barrage of hatred and mistreatment, some believers longed to get even. But vigilante acts of retaliation only lead to a downward spiral, so Paul reminded his friends of God's better way.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

Paul was calling these first-century Christbearers to dispel the darkness by lighting a candle. The world still needs Christophers—men and women who live and share the Gospel of Jesus--and in so doing take the light of Christ's love to a world that has lost its way.

This week I am especially grateful for a team of Christbearers from Spanish River Church, seventeen people who are lighting their candles in Cail, Colombia. They are investing a week of their lives on a medical mission trip to assist Javier Gill, another Christbearer, who has planted his life and a church in Cali, the city once known as the drug capital of the world.

It is so much easier to curse the darkness, to rail at injustice, or to decry the breakdown of a country's moral compass; but God calls us to light a candle!

NOTE: You can follow the journey of the Colombia team by clicking here.


[1] From The Christophers, (About Father Keller).