Friday, November 16, 2007

How are Christians to be Salt and Light in Our Culture Today?

Salt by its own definition does not lose its taste, and if it does it no longer can be called salt. It also cannot serve its function as salt if it is not applied to that which it is meant to flavor. If the salt sits next to the meat it fails to serve its given role but if it is used as it is given it will serve to save the meat from rotting. What is interesting about this fact in light of the question being asked is that if the Church still wants to be defined by its very name and if it wishes to follow its call to the world it cannot change to fit a definition that it does not answer and it cannot be a force in the world if it does not submit to its given role. In other words what separates the Church from being just another social organization like the Rotary or the Lions Club is that its mandate derives not from its individual members but from its foundation in the Word of God and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can be assured that if the Church denies or abrogates either of these it ceases to be that with which it claims to be and if the Church loses that authority it can no longer be the beacon that shines from the city on a hill giving light to the world.

The Church and its members by their very nature serve both a role in the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Man. It is neither proper for the Church in today’s society to be like the Anabaptists and completely withdrawal from its surrounding culture nor is it appropriate for the Church to be so involved in its surrounding milieu that it ends up being defined by and placating that culture. What has always troubled the Church is how to properly act in both arenas without acting outside its role to the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words what the Church has struggled with is how to be a light unto the path of a fallen world without compromising the Gospel. In today’s world we are as a Church confronted by a wide variety of cultural and systematic issues that threaten the ability of the Church to act as a united voice for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a broken world. The Church as a whole has failed to make the proper distinctions between its prophetic voice to speak with authority to the things that it has been given authority to speak and its call to be careful to not entangle itself in the web of secular political machinations. Whether it be, for example, the Christian Left and Christian Right selling themselves out to secular political parties in the interest of receiving special interest in legislation or Christian para-church organizations accepting money from questionable sources just to complete their mission we have here two examples of how the Church should not be acting if it wants to present a message with integrity, with salt, to the world. However, this of course is not to say the Church should completely divest itself from involvement in the political arena so as to not compromise the Gospel. That would call, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:9, for us to remove ourselves from the world completely. But we are to act with prudence and judgment as members of both the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Man.

In closing what we, as a Church must do in light of being both salt and light is to ascertain from Scripture that which we must do to fulfill our mandate as members of both Kingdoms. Always with the knowledge that all things should be done to Glorify God first and foremost. Amen.

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