I have tried during the past six months to turn the frustration of having to shelter at home into an opportunity to read quite a few excellent books. One of these, written by Jay Milbrandt, is “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone.” It tells, as the flyleaf states, of “Exile, American Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt That Saved Millions.”
There is much about Livingstone to know and celebrate, but one of the few facts with which most of us are acquainted has to do with the role played by a hard-boiled newspaper reporter, Henry Stanley, who was sent out to Africa to find David Livingstone. A few of you may recall that he wrote the first great story from which came the motion picture, Stanley and Livingstone, in which Spencer Tracy starred as Stanley.
Stanley, sent to Africa to seek and find Livingstone, went there as a cynic and an unbeliever, but returned a believer. A critic named Dan Crawford once talked about the change that had gone on in Stanley’s heart. “Livingstone,” Crawford affirmed, “was seemingly so eminently one of Christ’s men that Stanley could believe there was a Christ because there was a Livingstone.” The crusty reporter, Stanley himself, said:
Here is a man who is manifestly sustained as well as guided by influences from Heaven. The Holy Spirit dwells in him. God speaks through him. The heroism, the nobility, the pure and stainless enthusiasm at the root of his life came, beyond question, from Christ. There must, therefore, be a Christ, and it is worthwhile to have such a helper and redeemer as this Christ undoubtedly is, as he reveals Himself in this wonderful disciple.
That is not a preacher saying that, or a missionary; it is Henry Stanley, a tough-minded journalist who, before he met Livingstone, was an avowed non-believer, cynic, and skeptic. Men have been looking for some reason to believe in God through all the ages, but perhaps the most-convincing evidence we ever have of Him is when we see Him reflected in the heart and life of a person.
The poetess, Edna Vincent Millay, herself somewhat of a sceptic, once wrote: “The soul can split the sky in two, and let the face of God shine through.” That is what Livingstone did, hence Dan Crawford’s affirmation, “Stanley could believe there was a Christ because there was a Livingstone.”
How many of us along the way have been aided in believing by seeing evidence of Christlikeness or Godliness in someone we knew. We came to be a Christian because we saw in another person what a good Christian looks like, talks like, and lives like. Jesus Himself said long ago, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” He meant that the world could believe in God because they had seen God lived out in Him, and many people have been able to believe in Christ because they have seen Christ lived out in another person.
Do you remember the wonderful hymn of invitation many of us used to sing at the close of our worship services with these challenging, even haunting, words?
While passing through this world of sin, and others your life shall view,
Be clean and pure without, within;
Let others see Jesus in you.
Let others see Jesus in you, let others see Jesus in you;
Keep telling the story, be faithful and true,
Let others see Jesus in you.
Henry Stanley believed there was a Christ because he had seen Christ in David Livingstone. Has anyone ever come to believe in Christ because they saw Him in us? We dearly hope so.