Holding Forth the Word of Life

Remember this doormat?

For years, the words from Philippians 2:16, “…holding forth the word of life….” (ASV), were written on Fourth Church bulletins and newsletters (even doormats) and became the theme of conversations as we invited people to our church. That theme was captured in a painting that hung as the centerpiece in Dr. Norris’ study for years. It was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Arrants, Jr., and painted by member Mark Dassoulas.

This verse is helpful to remember now. As we have gathered online during the past two weeks for Sunday worship as well as classes, Bible studies, and prayer, the clear theme has been trusting afresh in that word and in our Savior. From Psalm 121 to Philippians 4 to the eternal comfort described in II Thessalonians 2:16, everything is pointing us to the word and our loving Savior.

Furthermore, all of our communications in this time of separation have called attention to the new opportunities for us to reach out to others. Everyone across the world is concerned. New and unprecedented needs have emerged. Jobs have been lost, schools are closed, health systems are strained, and new vaccines are needed. Everything has been overturned. Yet, consciously and graciously, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can use this time to minister to neighbors and friends holding forth the word that is about our Savior on every page.

In his March 23, 2020, newspaper article titled, “Don’t let this crisis go to waste!” (subtitled “COVID-19 hysteria can be neutralized with faith and kindness toward neighbors”), Everett Piper cites a crisis in Charles Spurgeon’s time. Spurgeon describes how the word of God ministered to his soul:

“I was returning mournfully home from a funeral, when, as God would have it, my curiosity led me to read a paper which was wafered up in a shoemaker’s window on the Great Dover Road … it bore in a good, bold handwriting, these words:

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality.”

Holding forth the word of life can be as simple as copying Psalm 91:10-11 and putting it in a window for all to read. Or, it can mean befriending and sharing the gospel with someone far from God who is anxious about the pandemic. Piper concludes, “‘Don’t let this crisis go to waste!’ shouts Spurgeon. Show the world what love, joy and peace, truly look like.”