This is the thing in all our living and serving and doing and giving, that men may know Jesus to the trusting, risking, loving point, the glad point. Everything that we can bring of gold and learning and labour and skill is precious, it is as purest gold, if it lead men into heart-touch with Jesus. And it clean misses the mark if it does less.
Who would be content to give a Belgian or Polish starveling a bare bit of bread, and a lonely stick of wood, and a rag of cloth. Bite and stick and cloth are good, but it's a meal and a fire, and some clothing, the man wants. And you have both ready at hand. Things are good, provided by money and skill and research and painstaking efforts. They do good. But it's Jesus men need. It's the warm touch that lets Him fully in with all of His human sympathy and all of His God-power, that's what they need.
Given the sun and quickly come warmth and food and shelter, health and vigour and increase of life. Given Jesus, and the warm touch with Him, in His simple fullness, just as He is, and surely and not slowly, there come flooding in all the rest of an abundant life, physical and mental and of the spirit.
John "was not the light." He was only the candlestick. And he was content to be that. He was a good candlestick. The light was held up. It could shine out. How grateful the crowd was. The road had been so dark. It is a bad thing when light and candlestick change places. The crowd seems to get the two confused sometimes. We get to thinking that the candlestick is the light, and the light is -- lost sight of. We gather about the candlestick. It'll surely lead the way out through the dark night into day. It's such a good candlestick, so highly polished. And sometimes the human candlestick itself gets things a bit mixed. It thinks, then it feels, then it knows, with a peculiar quality of self-assertive certainty, that after all it is the light that lighteth every one that is so blessed as to come within the radius of its shining. And brass does take a high polish, and makes an attractive appearance. It does send out a sparkle and radiance if only it is somewhere within range of some real light, patient enough to keep on shining in the dark, regardless of non-appreciation or misrepresentation or misunderstanding.
Is it any wonder the road is so full of people wandering in the night gathered about candlesticks? Is it surprising that the ditches are so full of men and candlesticks mixed up and mired up together? Yet it is always heart-breaking. There may be talent and training of the highest and best, and scholarship and culture, eloquence and skill, institutions and philanthropies. And there is so much of these. And these are good in themselves, and of priceless practical worth when seen and held in their right relation to the thing.
But it needs to be said often and earnestly: these are not the light. They are given to point men better to the Light. They're road-signs, index-fingers. And they are seen at their best when they point to the Light so clearly that the crowd quite forgets them in hastening to the Light they point out. They serve their true purpose in being so forgotten. They are still serving and serving best even while forgotten.