Back in the 90’s, when my dad was pastoring, our church often did dramas to illustrate a message. One script we acted out involved Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus talks about His followers being the salt and light of the world. Each “character” had a light (a lantern of some type) that they carried with them. Some were fearful of letting it shine. Some, like my character, were indifferent and even apathetic. Some were ashamed or even harsh with their light. But few of us got it right, the way Christ intended.
When we think about salt, we know it’s useful for enhancing flavor. It enriches the experience of food and keeps our eating from being a bland ritual. And yet, sometimes Christians think that our salt (or light) to the world should be overwhelming and even abrasive to be effective. And yet “if anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). Some Christians think that being a light means correcting every misconception or disagreeing with every theological point they don’t understand.
But Christ said we would be known as his disciples by our love (John 13:35). Now, that doesn’t mean our love is defined by the culture’s context of “love,” which is often just another term for permissive tolerance. Our words, actions, and attitudes should be counter-cultural.
“Being kind, joyful, and peace-filled because we’re heaven bound is absolutely counter-culture. The typical response to insults and persecution is to hurl them back, to look out for #1, to demand respect and never settle for second best, to get defensive and pouty, to ‘speak our truth’ especially when we sit behind a keyboard saying things we’d never say to someone’s face. Just as salt’s flavor is diluted by water, so our faith and resolve to live by it is diluted by the world we live in. But as followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to be different in all the wonderful ways He was different. His words were humble, interesting, substantial, and timelessly true. People are drawn to Him just like we’re drawn out of darkness by light. He loved people, He prayed for those who persecuted him, and He ultimately died for the very people who mistreated Him. He was joy-filled because He knew what lay beyond the moment” (The Chosen, 40 Days with Jesus, 37).
A.W. Tozer once said that if we were so diluted by the world around us, like medicine in water that’s overdiluted, we’d become ineffective as a cure.
May we be like our Savior, walking how He walked and talking like He talked. Speaking the truth with love. Reaching the world with open arms of compassion and care.