WRITER: EMILY PALMER
"Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavours, even the best, will come to naught. Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God's calling, can matter forever." - Timothy Keller
Keller's quote starts out on a dismal note; the good we do, all the effort invested into a cause, none of it will matter. Everything will fade away eventually and our striving will not be worth anything. But one phrase changes the trajectory of the paragraph.
"Unless there is a God."
What you and I do with our lives has eternal significance. Each action we take and every thought entertained either drives us towards or away from the calling that God desires for each of us. The unembellished, understated choices can and will have lasting impact. The real question then is not "can I make a difference?" but rather, "what is the difference I will make?"
Embedded in this notion of insignificance and significance is a continuum which should be addressed. On one hand, as stated earlier, some may believe that nothing they do will ever amount to anything, and that their efforts in life will continue to be fruitless. This represents a mentality rooted in despair. It sets people up to think and behave as victims who have no power or say in what becomes of their lives. On the other hand, some may view themselves as the masters of their own destinies, free and able to choose to do as they please with no limitations or reservations. This outlook frames humanity as the ultimate decision makers and meaning makers, leaving too much open for interpretation of what is true and right and just.
While both of these secular mentalities permeate our culture today, those who follow Jesus are beckoned to a higher calling in which God defines human significance. He gives us the roadmap in how we are to identity as people on earth with a purpose, and interact with the currencies of grace and free will.
The bedrock of Lighthouse Voyage is founded in a place of hope and trust, where the intentions of people's hearts are fixed on God and the story he is creating in and through each human who declares him Lord. We are praying that "whatever [we] do, whether in word or deed, [we] do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col. 3:17). These dreams of impacting the broader world outside of the four walls of our own homes cannot be carried out by a few people, but necessitate a community of partners in prayer, in giving, in faith. Jesus tells us that even if our faith is a small as a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, we can tell mountains to move, and they will (Matt. 17:20).
In the lives we lead, in the conversations we initiate, in the places we work, what differences are we making? Let us trust that our mustard seeds, our small contributions to God's kingdom, will be planted, watered, and sown by the best farmer known to mankind, and that in his timing, every simple endeavour will point back to who Jesus is and what he has come to do.
“Freely you have received; freely give”
Writer: Ryan Sclater
A common complaint against the plausibility of Christianity comes under the cover of apparent sympathy with those innocent sufferers of evil—the poor, the helpless, the widow, the orphan, the blind, the lame—who all seem to needlessly undergo pains in a world that we claim was created by a good and sovereign God. How, we ask, can this God allow such suffering? In response to this problem, many arguments have been put forward by Christians, which all, in the end, require the listener to repent and believe. For this reason, it seems that God often chooses to call rather than argue his people into the Kingdom. But the Christian must ask another question when considering this situation: if the temporal suffering of the poor, the weak, and the downtrodden is so unacceptable, how much more do we need to act as unmistakable, irresistible signs that point constantly to the surpassing glory and worth and beauty of Christ, who will in the end wipe away all these earthly tears in eternity?
I should be quick to point out that I am not arguing that we should forget about earthly suffering; being so enraptured by the light of Heaven that we forget to love our neighbors here and now. The problems that we face in this world are completely unacceptable and require some sort of response on our part as ambassadors for our gracious and loving King. This is the foundation of Lighthouse Voyage: that we would not stand idly by while exploitation and oppression continue to devastate individuals, families, and communities in India and all over the world. The seriousness of sexual exploitation breaks our hearts. It gives us no other option but to intervene and to bring light into the darkness, wholeness to brokenness, and hope to the hopeless. We earnestly believe that God, far from being the reason for this immense suffering, is working despite and even through this suffering for our good and His glory.
Suffering in this world is not merely explained away by the Christian, but conquered. We use even the worst that the Enemy can throw at us as a chance to radically love our brothers and sisters across the world. We stand in the face of the most tragic circumstances, the most terrible sins, the most saddening histories, and we do not give up, do not lose heart, do not grow weary, do not grow numb, but allow God to continually break our hearts, cut down our pride, and send us out again and again to proclaim grace in His name to every suffering soul. As suffering wears us down and reveals our desperate need for the love of Christ, we wade into suffering to ensure that all who suffer know that there is One who can wipe away every tear. We cannot turn this world that is so quickly fading away into heaven on earth, but we can fill the whole earth with praise in the midst of pain, with hearts turning ever towards His glorious face.
The reason we intervene
And why must we do this? Not merely because the suffering of others makes us feel sad. The depth of Christian love comes from the depth of Christian forgiveness; freely Christ has given all for us. We cannot fathom the ways that Jesus sacrificed in order to even be found among us in human form, let alone to die in our place, and finally, to rise again to life that we may be raised with Him. And because we have been miraculously raised with our Lord, we carry out His mission and raise our brothers and sisters out of poverty, out of oppression, out of slavery, and most importantly out of sin and into faith. After all, Christ’s first response to a paralyzed man was to address his primary need for the forgiveness of his sins, but He did not neglect to tell him to walk away from the encounter on his own two legs. Earthly suffering, then, the prickly problem of pain, needs to be tackled out of the abundance of Christian love.
The means we use
For this reason, Lighthouse Voyage will always prioritize loving relationships in our mission to set captives free. No one is undeserving of our love and no task is beneath our attention if it can contribute to healthy and whole individuals, families, and communities. Nothing is too dangerous, too unpleasant, too menial, or too humbling, because nothing can stand in the way of helping those precious people who are still suffering under oppression and exploitation. The fight against exploitation is not just about defeating exploitation in general, but saving each individual and personally loving them into wholeness as a person and oneness with Christ. And the more we can come together as the body of Christ to serve our brothers and sisters around the world, the more we will catch glimpses of what it will finally look like when Jesus comes to wipe away those tears for good.
We know that as we freely give away our lives, it will be costly. But what do we really lose? Precisely nothing. The trick is to realize that if we sacrifice all that we have for the good of our brothers and sisters, we actually lose nothing of any real significance. After all, we do not own our lives anyway. Our time, our money, our interests, our ambitions; none of these actually belong to us. If freely we have received, giving freely out of a re-created heart is the only possible course of action.