On Being Salt & Light

We who follow Jesus Christ are struggling because we live in a world of increasing secularism. Worse, it’s radical secularism that would do away with the church as we know it.

Biblical values get called out as hate speech things. Because these are challenging times, we must reappraise ourselves, where we are and how we approach our post-Christian culture.

There’s been an unhealthy triumphalism in the church. It goes back five centuries, but most certainly, we’ve seen it in the American church. Growing congregations get a lot of press, good and bad. But the prevailing mindset suggests that we have every right to speak into culture just because we’re right. That form of tautology or circular reasoning gets us into trouble.

Meanwhile, the church is shrinking.

We’ve drawn attention to ourselves in ways that perhaps we shouldn’t. We’ve gone to war politically, both on the left and right. We need to de-politicize as we take a stand against secularism. We should stand first for the love of God and then position ourselves to love our neighbors, including our adversaries.

Think about salt and light. Jesus says that we’re the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, it says it’s good for nothing and will get trampled underfoot. If we’ve lost our authentic flavor—the love for God that calls us to love others and disciple them into Christ, we’ve lost our true agenda. Those values cause few arguments, representing a power that overcomes the world.

Those are simple functions that we traded for a programmatic approach to ministry. We often put on a Sunday show (an event, not a church) instead of living in a relational community and enjoying a healthy relationship with our neighbors. And, most people aren’t interested in the show.

Jesus said, He came for the press for the poor for the downtrodden, but many practice little more than tokenism toward those people. We’ve turned our back on the miraculous. We need to think about re-seasoning ourselves and getting salty again.

Jesus also says that we are the light of the world.

Light doesn’t make a lot of noise. It just shines. Jesus says we are to position our light so others can see it and glorify our Father. He’s not speaking about an advertising campaign but a campaign of good works.

If he gets his way, instead of tramping over us, people will appreciate what we’re doing for them—for the communities around. Those churches that grew through COVID got out and served their communities during the lockdowns.

The pandemic has served as an accelerator of ongoing processes, including online ministry and the sad shrinkage of the church as we knew it. Church attendance is off, but maybe that’s not so bad. We’ve experienced a winnowing in that serious people are still with us while others have disappeared. That may be a good thing.

But what we need to do in light of new realities is find a way to put ourselves to work blessing the people around us, and it’s probably going to be one on one.

We are on a lampstand whether we like it or not. We’re examined for hypocrisy, all the “isms” that people conjecture and for the reality of our proclaimed love for others. Our stance should resemble salt and light in its subtle, penetrating approach to the darkness around us.

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6 thoughts on “On Being Salt & Light”

  1. Ralph, thanks for your framework here. I’m a micro guy out in Kansas City and agree deeply with doing our best to listen to Jesus, obey Jesus, and bless those around us. One of the deepest places my wife and I are trying to grow (and in turn we plan to multiply it out) is a Spiritual Authority Cohort we are going through where we are stepping into Blessing/Declarative prayer, listening to God, inner healing, and physical healing etc. I’m learning my skew has been to minister in word and deed but NOT power. Repenting of that, and asking Holy Spirit to fill afresh and to take risks in ministering.

    1. Wow, Morgan, you’re hitting on the greatest need in my personal life. So easy to slip into strategies and systems that actually work but miss the heart of Jesus in too many ways.

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