Thursday, 7 October 2010

Salt And Light

What would the world look like without the Church? For all its faults, failings and abuses, the Church is still the best hope the world has. It gives birth to emissaries of tenacious practical vision who possess the rare quality of turning impossible dreams into reality. The results have looked like: civil governments, international peace-treaties, the abolition of the British slave-trade, schools for the poor, universities, hospitals, and a free press. Added to this have come some of the greatest contributions in the Arts, Academia, Literature, Leadership, Commerce and Communication. The Church is at its best when it not only cares deeply for the world but rolls up its sleeves and shows that care by being the "salt" and the "light" to the world that Christ called us to be.
Brooke Hill's walkathon being reported by the Examiner newspaper
In our day, salt adds flavour to food. But in the Disciples' day, salt preserved food. Christ calls us, His followers, the Church, to salt our society. We are charged by Christ to do all we can to make decency, kindness, fairness, justice, compassion, and morality the standards for our society. But we demonstrate and model these standards for society as well. Thus, we not only hold society accountable we are also held to account by society regarding these standards. Understanding this tension helps us to appreciate that what some people mean by "the separation of Church and State". While this expression was originally intended to refer to the non-interference of the Church in the running of the State and vice versa, some in the State would rather redefine it to mean: We, the State, will hold you, the Church, accountable, but you shall not dare to hold us accountable.
Matt. 5:13 ¶ “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 
Matt. 5:14 ¶ You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."
The charge by Christ to His Church to be "salt" - a preservative of God's standards in society - is why we want to have a conversation with our society and especially with those in our society who determine Public Policy. It's why I wrote to each Tasmanian politician who was victorious at the last Federal Election to both congratulate them and let them know that we are praying for them. This gesture is a sincere attempt on my part to let our re-elected (or newly elected) politicians know that we care- about them, and our society at large.
First Timothy 3:15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth.
The Apostle Paul reminds believers that their conduct within the church must model the truth for society (1Tim 3:15). We are salt to each other before we are salt to society. It is our collective aim to work together to ensure that our local church is strong, vibrant, and a source of inspiration to a generation of "salties" who will enact God-given dreams for a better society. We can do this by having hearts yielded to God and His Word, having souls saturated in His grace, and demeanors that are refined through the fires of trials/resolved-misunderstandings/offences-overlooked. These qualities of a strong, vibrant community of believers are found in Romans 12:9-21 (our Biblical Constitution).
As we inspire a generation of salty saints we can expect to see some of them take up positions of influence and others to get alongside those in positions of influence. Both types of salties will benefit from the wisdom of other seasoned salty saints, such as Kevin Andrews' list of 10 things every Christian wishing to influence politicians should know. Still others may end up being a salty witness for Christ to the world in their workplace, school, or kitchen.
Eph. 5:11 (NLT) Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them.
You don't have to be a perfect example of salt or light in order to be salt or light to the world. None of us are. But we can model to the world what it looks like for fallen, failed, people to be redeemed and walking in God's grace. The fact that we can demonstrate to the world what genuine grief and contrition for our sin looks like actually makes our witness even more "salty". This is why we need each other. It's why meeting together Sunday by Sunday is critically important. It's why God especially graces His people when they meet together and surrender their lives and God-given gifts to God for the benefit of each other. This is how we ensure our saltiness.
Lord Jesus, You have called us to be salt and light to this world that more often than not rejects You, Your Word, Your will and Your ways. Help us to fear You and to not be intimidated by the opinions of men. May we be shaped by Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Help us to develop the qualities found in Romans 12:9-21 which demands that we humble ourselves, love Your church, care for the world, and serve each other. Increase our saltiness. When we fail, bring us nearer to You than where we have to be in order to fail You. Forgive us for sins. Cleanse our hearts and fill us afresh with Your Spirit to Your Salt and Light to the World.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

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