In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:1-5).
A famous hymn asks: “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”
We don’t hear the word “benighted” very often. It does, however, seem to
be capture the picture of Saint John’s words. Although the life that Jesus brought now shines into the world that had been shuttered in spiritual darkness, “the darkness has not understood it.” Those people remain in the dark.
They are benighted.
It pains us to say this includes Americans. We see many groping for answers and stumbling over truth.
That hymn reminds us, “In vain with lavish kindness, the gifts of God are strown.”
We look at the blessings that have been scattered upon our homeland, and we admit God has lavished us with kindness. Often in vain.
Sadly, many of the benighted are our neighbors.
But some troops sent to faraway places have seen an even darker picture.
What are we to think when we see large masses of people gather to worship a god who cannot help them because he does not exist?
What does it mean when we see truck drivers stop on the side of the road, pull out their mats, and prostrate themselves in answer to the call to prayer sounded from a nearby tower?
Would we stop our travel to pray in public to the LORD Almighty? Where does their boldness of faith come from?
What is the source of their zeal? What makes so many of them so serious about their religion? Is this not the Prince of Darkness flexing his muscle?
Why are we so often so shy about our faith? How can we be timid about showing that we serve the living Creator and the only source of Life?
The question remains, “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”
It isn’t as if there is any doubt that Jesus is the Son of God and promised Savior of the world. The Apostle Peter points out: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (II Peter 1:19).
That word demands our attention. It tells us,“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).
Perhaps we once sang the words, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” Maybe we overlooked the meaning of those words.
Our God hasn’t. It cost the life of his Son to make it possible for us to be lights in the world.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear to us: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (I Thessalonians 5:5).
We do not belong to the darkness. We walk in the light of heavenly glory. We reflect that light.
We should not; we dare not; we will not deny that light to souls benighted.
So help us God!
We pray: Lord of glory and light of the world, we marvel at the wonders of your plan pf salvation. We know we would still be part of the darkness of the Holy Spirit had not brought the light of the gospel into our hearts. Keep us from the powers of spiritual darkness. Use us as lights in the darkened and dying world. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military. We Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military