Yet it is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness. --William L. Watkinson
When I heard the above quote earlier today, I did a bit of research on who actually said it. That can be difficult to do because good quotes tend to get passed along and incorporated into the speeches of others. It is often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt or Adlai Stevenson or even Confucius but I discovered that it was published in a book of sermons by W.L. Watkinson long before either Roosevelt or Stevenson quoted it. As for it being a Chines proverb, shortly after the book was published, a missionary society based in China obtained permission to reprint and distribute the sermon which contained the quote.
Regardless of its source, as I read the the pages preceding and following the above quote, I realized that Watkinson's sermon is pertinent for us today. How should the Christian respond to evil in our society? In fact, I had that discussion just the other night with my son.
My heart has been broken as I have watched Christians and non-believers stand face-to-face and hurl "rocks" of hatred at each other. Social media, a place where you can neither look into the eyes of your "enemy" nor hear their voice has been a breeding ground of vicious battles, hatred and division. As Christians, we should know better. Have we forgotten that Jesus said we are to love our enemies? So why do we villanize them and wish them evil?
Legislation cannot change a person's heart but Jesus Christ can. However, why would anyone listen to us if we are trying to put them in a "headlock" and screaming at them? On the other hand, some well-meaning Christians, recognizing this truth have turned around and are getting into verbal wars with their Christian brothers and sisters causing further division within the Body of Christ.
We need to remember who we are! While I am not suggesting that we be ignorant of what is going on in the secular world nor remain silent when there is evil, we must focus on being a light in the darkness. People are not drawn to the light if they believe that those around that light are hostile towards them. They are repelled by it and seek to avoid it. On the other hand, if those around the light are warm and friendly, people can't help but being drawn to it.
Are we so busy cursing the darkness that the light of our candle has grown dim or been snuffed out altogether? Let us be clean, bright lights that invite people to come out of the darkness and into the light.
Quotation taken from The Supreme Conquest and Other Sermons Preached in America by W. L. Watkinson (William Lonsdale Watkinson), Sermon XIV: The Invincible Strategy, 1907.