Colum Cille (16)
To heaven’s King he was known,
towards each threat He lit his mind...
His brilliant fame—just in speech—
he was the spearcast, lies were slain.
- Beccán mac Luigdech, Fo Réir Choluimb
Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
- Psalm 12.1, 2
A large part of Colum Cille’s work on Iona related to evangelizing among the lost in what is today Scotland. He made many sorties among the unbelieving tribes, explaining Jesus to them and calling them to repent and believe the Good News. And he trained many others to do the same, so that from Iona, the Gospel went forth throughout Scotland and to mainland Europe for many years.
Colum understand that there are but two families of human beings: those who embrace the truth of God, and those who walk the treacherous paths of the lie. Whatever is not of truth—not of God, and Christ, and the Scriptures—is from the father of lies, and leads to disappointment, disillusionment, despair, and death.
The truth, as Colum knew, is to be known only in Christ Jesus. He is the truth (Jn. 14.6); He proclaims the truth (Jn. 8.45); and His Word, which is also the Word of the Father, is truth (Jn. 17.17). The more we are transformed into the image of Jesus, the more His truth will shape our lives and fill our words, and the more our world will thus be filled up with Him (Eph. 4.10).
All who, like Colum, have set their minds on the things that are above, not on those that are below (Col. 3.1-3), are shaped by truth, grow to love truth, and give their lives in service of truth. Scripture frequently likens such people to weapons of war, deployed by the hand of God against the lie in all its forms (cf. Zech. 9.13). Such people understand their mission in life as a struggle to set upright an upside-down world, beginning in their own souls, and working out the details of holiness in all their relationships, roles, and responsibilities (Acts 17.1-9).
But it is a hard row to hoe, and there are many obstacles, trials, and challenges. These days, as in the days of King David (Ps. 12), the lie seems to be everywhere pervasive, infiltrating, discoloring, and corrupting every place where the cause of truth has been abandoned or neglected by those entrusted with it. The cause of truth is betrayed whenever we, who know the truth, fail to live and proclaim truth into the darkness of the lie (Prov. 28.4). If we don’t like the darkness and lies which everywhere swirl around us, we need to remember that this is a condition about which we can do something, for we have been called and appointed to shine as true lights in the dark world.
Like Colum and the monks of Iona, we are ambassadors of the Kingdom and emissaries of truth to an age that desperately needs relief from the deceptions, half-truths, and outright lies that are foisted on them every day from a wide variety of sources. Colum, Beccán rejoiced to tell us, was the spearcast of truth into the arrayed forces of the lie. And he prevailed to see many break free of the lie and enter the truth that is in Jesus.
We who follow the truth can be certain, at every moment, that God intends more for us, and is able to do more in and through us, than we have heretofore ever imagined or known (Eph. 3.20). God can light up our minds and strengthen our bodies for service in truth, and He can use us as powerful weapons to defeat the lie wherever we encounter it.
But only if we begin our day and live each moment of it grounded in the truth.
The struggle for truth continues in our day. Truth in how we see the world, how we relate to one another, what we talk about, what we aspire to know and achieve, what we make and love and obey. Colum was a spearcast against the lie, and so we have been called and sent as weapons of truth into our own Personal Mission Field. We must prepare well every day if we are to make progress against the lie.
Seek the Lord, that you may be sharp and true and effective in serving the truth of God against the everywhere-present lie of wrong belief. How will God use you as His arrow, His spearcast, today?
Questions for Reflection
1. What are the effects of the lie, as it replaces truth in every aspect of our culture and society?
2. How should you prepare each day to wield the weapons of truth against the lies of unbelief?
Psalm 12.5 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all
Your precious children, sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call;
grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.
Help me, Lord, to be more consistent and effective in wielding the Sword of truth. Today, let me…
T. M. Moore
The witness of creation
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clancy and Márkus, p. 139.