“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” – Matthew 5:13
My family was in the salt business for three generations. My grandfather, after some years working for a salt company, quit his job and started his own company. When he retired, my uncle became president of the company, and my father, vice-president. Later, my husband Marty, a chemical engineer, had a long career with the same company, working in their research and development department.
When my sister and I were growing up, my father educated us on the many properties and uses of salt. Apparently, there was much more to it than what we shook onto our food at the dinner table. Salt was used to melt snow and ice on the roads, to preserve foods, and as a water softener. (I had no idea what that last one meant at the time.) If one of us had a sore throat, Dad encouraged us to gargle with salt water. And as I have had to deal with sinus problems most of my life, I discovered the all-important “Neti Pot” could help me breathe better by rinsing the sinuses with saline solution. I have used salt and olive oil to exfoliate and soften skin. And when occasionally I would buy some “low sodium” product by accident, I was made unpleasantly aware of how important that ingredient was to the flavor of just about any food.
So, if we are to be the “salt of the earth,” as Jesus described us, what exactly does that mean? While one could make a case for applying this passage to several of salt’s uses, the most common interpretation is in the sense of preserving. In Jesus’ time, long before there was refrigeration, salt was used to keep food from spoiling, or at least to slow down the spoilage.
No doubt about it, this fallen world, teeming with fallen people, is in decay. The world system is under the influence of our enemy Satan, and we are hurdling toward destruction. We (the Church) are sent to shine Light into the dark places, to be an influence for good. We can’t stop the destruction of the world, but we can be used by God to delay it, buying time for more people to be redeemed.
So, how do we do that? The answer will be different from one person to the next. But one thing we are not to do is isolate ourselves within our churches and wait it out. As the king told his servants in one of Jesus’ parables, “Occupy until I come.” This parable has implications for us as we wait for Christ’s return – we have work to do.
Does this work involve (*cringe*)”politics”?
In the Body of Christ there are different members with different roles. Most of us are not called to enter the arena of social activism or government leadership. But, thank God, some of us are – I would not want to live in a country run entirely by the ungodly! (No politician jokes, please.)
Those who are sincerely trying to be “salt and light” in our government have an uphill climb, and often feel as though the rest of us have abandoned them. As much as some of us loathe politics and would like to stay uninvolved, we do need to support our brothers and sisters who are in places of authority.
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and those in authority, that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (I Timothy 2: 1-3) So, praying for our leaders is the very least we can do. In addition to praying for them, we could contact them occasionally, to encourage them and let them know we’re praying for them. I know if I were on the front lines, I would want to know I’m being prayed for.
I guess I should mention voting, although I would hope in America that’s a given. Some Christians refuse to get involved in elections, saying they don’t want to choose “the lesser of two evils,” as if that will make them more virtuous in God’s eyes. I could be mistaken, but in my view, refusing to choose the lesser of two evils is letting a vote for the greater of two evils go unchallenged. Again, we are not saving the world, but we are trying to slow down its demise.
In ancient times, God judged whole civilizations according to the actions of their leaders, even though the citizens had no say. How much more will we be accountable, when we are blessed enough to live in a country where we have a voice? True, we may feel our voices are being limited. Nevertheless, we should prayerfully use whatever influence we have been given, whether it’s in voting, writing letters to a leader or editor, or showing up at a city council or school board meeting, as the Lord leads, and conducting ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel.”
As for getting involved in the debates of the day, whether in person, through letter writing, or on social media, I have a few criteria for speaking up, and otherwise I try to keep my mouth shut.
1.) The issue must be one that is important enough in the grand scheme of things that it’s worth the time and effort put into the discussion.
2.) I should know that the person I speak to will listen intelligently and that it’s possible (s)he may have a change of heart. Trying to persuade a closed-minded person is wasted time I will never get back, and I’m not getting any younger.
3.) I must be knowledgeable enough about the subject. I don’t want to find out later that I said something that wasn’t true. I would rather stay silent on political issues than lose my credibility and hurt my testimony on more important (eternal) subjects.
Needless to say, after using that checklist, I usually opt to say nothing – to people, that is. Talking to God is always appropriate.
Prayer: Lord, You have called us to be in the world but not of the world. Help us to follow Your lead, always speaking and acting in a way that honors You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.