The Keepers of the Flame
By Dave Breese
There is, as we all know, a difference between a house and a home. A house is a shell whose stark and empty rooms testify to a former occupancy and a present vacancy. It is often the case that the room once echoed with the laughter of children, the fellowship of families, and even the singing of Easter hymns and Christmas carols. Those days are gone, the folks have moved and the house gets dusty from non-use.
A home is quite a different thing. The lights illuminate the hustle and the bustle of activity. A baby cries, the kids run in and out, the adults confer about important things, a broken window is quickly repaired and life goes on.
Yes, there is something about a home which is more than bricks and boards and stairways. It is the family that makes a house a home and this becomes possible because there is a lighted fire in the furnace or the fireplace. The home is warm and hospitable because someone put another log on the fire. That someone could well be called the keeper of the flame.
A home is something like civilization itself. The world is not just numbered people who produce a statistic for the demographers. No, civilization is made what it is because it warms the hearts of its participants and encourages them with a constantly renewed vision of the future. There is within the life of the world some keepers of the flame. They are people who not only make life worth living, but they are the ones without whom the world could not survive. They bring sanity and sense to the irrational age in the midst of which we live. They shine like lights in the world. They hold forth the Word of Life in the midst of crooked and perverse nations where they live and serve. They are unimpressed with the worlds solutions but continue to hold high the burning torch of truth and reality.
Who are these people who make life possible in this world? The answer is that these people are the children of God.
These people are Christians! Yes, while the world will not admit it, these people of God are the reason that mankind is still around. What is the nature of the influence that Christians have upon the external world? The answer should be obvious but it needs to be said again and again.
Christians are keepers of the flame of freedom. With a quick examination, we notice that the story of people is generally the story of one group enslaving another. Often this comes in the form of the king, the emperor and his court, flogging a helpless citizen into obeying the dictates of the man in charge. One can look across the pagan world almost in vain to find a single nation whose people can call themselves free. The idea of individual freedom is part and parcel of Christian civilization.
What a contrast is Christian civilization! The flame of freedom has continued to burn in the great democracies because of the influence of the Bible and the knowledge of God. Freedom, a product of Christianity, has produced the amazing advances of science, technology, philosophy, and a thousand other things that have made this amazing entity called Christian civilization a remarkable thing. Strictly speaking, Christianity has produced the only civilization there is.
Christians are guardians of the flame of faith. What is behind the amazing vitality of Christianity? It is more than optimistic talk, clever economics or interesting theories. Rather, the engine behind Christian reality, is the message called the Gospel of the grace of God. To whatever measure the Bible has been preached and the message of grace emphasized, to that extent the culture has been changed. It is the faith of the Gospel that has done it. Yes, the Word of God with the testimony of Jesus Christ has already proved itself to be the most life-changing, culture-preserving message on the face of the earth. Nothing can compare with it! The darkness of the Islamic lands, the thousands of gods of India and Asia have produced nothing like the results of the Gospel.
Christians are keepers of the flame of opportunity. One of the most wonderful promises made in all of history came when the eternal God spoke to the Church of our time, saying, Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it (Rev. 3:8). For the Christian, different from many other views, this is a world of opportunity. God has yet greater things for His people is a slogan common to Christians. Believers in Christ often remind themselves, saying, I can be something today that I wasnt yesterday, With Gods help I will mount up with wings as eagles. One is not a Christian for long until he notices that the Bible is full of amazing promises of something more, something beyond. Because God works within both to will and to do of His good pleasure, the Christian never fails at divine optimism.
Something of the ebullient spirit of the Christian has percolated out into the world. Opportunity is one of the favorite words of the Christian. It does not apply in the same way to the world for whom the basis of life is tragic. Black despair is one of the common attitudes of the aging multitudes of our world who have never come to confidence in Christ.
We Christians are, therefore, justly proud of our wonderful Savior and enormously confident in the fact that He presides over the destinies of nations. Because of the message of Christ, there is something to live for, something to hope for in this world of ours. Christiansthe keepers of the flamehave continued to furnish the oil and the attention that makes the beacon of hope burn brightly in our world. The keepers of the flame invite you to become one of them.
Christians are keepers of the flame of truth. If ever there was a characteristic of our time, it is expressed in the word, delusion. When speaking of the rise of the Antichrist, the Scripture says, For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: That they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (II Thess. 2:11,12). We are even told that Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1). We Christians are informed that Satan was a liar from the beginning. As his influence grows toward the end of the age, we can expect that the father of lies will greatly heighten his activity. It is surely soon to come true that, as the poet said, Hold ere this truth before your eyes That all the world is lies and lies.
Yes, indeed, the truth about anything will become a very scarce commodity as we move toward the end of the age. The world will become lies, all lies.
While this fraudulent world will become very distressing, it will also make Christianity in our time a very strategic entity. People, desperately seeking the truth, will be able to find it in but one source, the Word of God. Therefore, we Christians, in holding forth the Word of life, will be the only real source of sense and sanity to a world that has become totally cynical. With the truth of Christ, we are free indeed.
Let no one therefore think that the labor of the believer is in vain. Every act done for Christ produces a just recompense of reward in eternity. Every prayer is presented as a substantial thing before the throne of God. Even though in this world so afflicted by spiritual myopia we may not see the immediate results of our efforts, these results are significant, substantial, and eternal. The recording angel puts them all down, and the rewarding hand of God will pour upon His servants one day the golden reward of eternity.
Remember also that, in the divine economy, a little becomes a lot. The servant rewarded by Jesus Christ was faithful in a very little, but as a result, was given authority over ten cities. There is no question about ita little labor, a little prayer, a little faithfulness, a little trust when we might have doubtedthis becomes a lot in the expanded vistas of eternity.
It is time, therefore, to look up, to look out, and to ask with enthusiasm anew the question, Lord, what will You have me to do? Then, doing what God has called us to do, we discover the truth that no one goes to war at his own charges but rather, is backed by the treasury of eternity. How marvelous to serve Christ now before we see Him then is His glory. Bright anticipationthat is the attitude! With that attitude, we must serve Him in this shadowy world and then we soon shall see Him in the shadowless presence of His eternal glory.
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