How does salt confront injustice with integrity?
Today the rights of the individual often trump the claims of society. Personal freedom reigns regardless of collateral damage. Conflict ensues. Common moral values have traditionally protected our society from the tyranny of any individual or faction. Now the mutuality of our values is disintegrating, making ethical judgments for the good of the whole tricky at best. What one person says is beneficial for society another says violates his/her personal freedom. While in some cultures the dissenting individual is simply eliminated, often brutally, for noncompliance to the norm, how does a free society handle this disparity in mores? There is obviously no easy answer, but a desperate need for cooperation and open minded dialog! Making matters worse, opportunistic people take advantage of the situation to foster strife and victimhood to further their own interests, promote a political agenda, and advance their careers. Difficult and legitimate problems become embroiled in emotional rhetoric rather than solved. Tragically, the ones who are most vulnerable and victimized become mere pawns in a social chess match for power. Media and government inflame hatred and social unrest for their own benefit. Moralists cast insensitive recriminations as they lobby for laws. The preying powerful create a ‘politically correct’ rulebook that restrains opposing viewpoints – especially if they call for conformity to moral self- restraint for the public good. The tactics of stimulating suspicion and hatred between different groups, unrest and anarchy, class envy, and the character assassination of opponents inflame emotion rather than promote cooperation. There is blame for those on both sides of the issues. Tolerance is demanded except towards those who disagree with their own perceptions of good. And as C.S Lewis so brilliantly points out ““Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” This mindset is true of the liberal left as well as the conservative right. The intentions may be good but the results are oppressive. Both religion and anti-religion stand guilty. Meanwhile the divide deepens and problems become more devastating.
In this atmosphere how does it look to be the preservative ‘salt’ that Jesus calls us to be? We are sure to be labeled as ‘intolerant’ and ‘judgmental’ if we insist on morality where it is unpopular. Should Christians sit by and watch as people merchandise the bodies of others – even defenseless children- for the profit of corrupt traffickers? Should those who serve the Author of life ignore the fact that over half of the deaths in the United States every year are the absolutely defenseless unborn children who are aborted, the overwhelming majority of those being black? Or do we claim a non-judgmental stance when tyrants kidnap, drug and train children to be soldiers and beggars for their personal empowerment? What about corporations wringing exorbitant profits from the consumers? What about an information industry that lies and misrepresents to control the minds of its listeners for the advancement of a political agenda? What about unscrupulous use of public trust and misuse of government aid? What about the lethal yet subtle undermining of the family as a basic social unit? And the list goes on….
The list of questions must be answered prayerfully and honestly before the God of justice we serve. Some things must be left for Him to judge, and there are also places He may want us to be His hands in this process. To me as an individual it is just overwhelming to think about changing an institution or a prevailing cultural mindset that has been entrenched for decades unless I view it from a “bloom where you are planted” mindset. I may be called to march in protest, or not. I may be called to give to a certain aspect of financial support, or I may not. I do not see the first church rushing to political action to solve their culture’s deplorable excesses and depravity. I see them fanatically pursuing a love relationship with the One Who purchased their soul’s freedom, and the overflow from that connection prompted love, care, kindness, and self-sacrifice for the lost around them. In the wake of their selfless commitment to Christ the rampant injustice was mitigated. It was without a political insurrection – unless you include martyrdom in that category. God can work however He wants, and I am not limiting His methods. I think we have done that ourselves by replacing radical devotion with something else, something more palatable to our sensibilities, something less embarrassing in our social circles, something to soothe our conscience without needing to consult God about His preferences. Sometimes we can actually garner the accolades of our neighbors as we fight the injustice of our day if our cause is popular. Please, please do not misunderstand!! God may call you to a prominent place of resistance, and it may be admired. I am glad for believers who are “for” something, and not just “against”. The popularity of a cause does not diminish its validity at all. The question I would ask you I ask myself. Are you just as willing to work behind the scenes in the lives of the hurting? Are you truly willing to let God HImself choose how to use you in this life. What if He calls you to pray and nothing more. Is that enough? Here is the test of a believer!