"In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." - Matthew 5:16
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was well known for his journal writing, meditations, and social critique that continue today to influence the spirituality of our times in many ways. These words from his best selling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, speak of the incredible love God has for us:
"God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons. What kind of love are we capable of expressing when our Lord's love abides in us?"
The story is told of a missionary who was sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer, but when he got to the port city, he heard of a boatload of Jews that had escaped from Germany and had just been allowed to land temporarily. They had been wandering around with no place to go and were all crammed in the attic of a house close by. It happened to be Christmas, and on that morning, the missionary went to where the Jews were staying.
He walked in and said, "Merry Christmas." The people looked at him as if he were crazy and responded, "We're Jews."
"I know that," said the missionary, "What would you like for Christmas?"
In utter amazement, the Jews responded, "Why, we would like some pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany." So he went out and used the money for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, he then had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States. His superiors responded, asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He responded that he had used it to buy Christmas sweets for some Jews.
His superiors wired back, "Why did you do that? They don't even believe in Jesus."
He replied, "Yes, I know, but I do."* — Maranatha!
LISTEN HERE to "Shine Jesus Shine" by Hillsong
* From a sermon by Victor Yap, SermonCentral.com, "God's Friend" 6/29/08)