There are many legitimate responses to the call of God in our culture.
If there is anything God is speaking to me and challenging me about, it is love. What really does it look like? Do I have to feel loving to be loving? Does it always excuse inappropriate and hurtful behavior? I know more of how it is supposed to look in my role as a wife, a mother, a sister in Christ. But how do I react to those who don’t know about God or don’t care? Or what about those who hate Him and His adherents? How do I treat those who use others to satisfy their own egos or lusts? What about my neighbors – the nice ones and the mean ones? Treating the people around us who we can see and interact with is, of course, a challenge to love as the Good Samaritan did. I respond with kindness to a slight, I take a meal to my neighbor who is in need, I help where I have a way to do so. Anyone who has had a death or crisis in the it family knows how generous, caring, and thoughtful the Christian community can be.
Then there is ‘society’, that faceless entity which I can think about and talk about with no personal interaction. What does love look like there? Should I just ignore the evil perspectives and attitudes and remain uninvolved? Can I justifiably disparage and censure? What about evil actions? Should I resist with picketing, boycotting or rhetoric?
For the Christ-follower it is a fine line to walk – how do I love the sinner and hate the sin? To do nothing in the face of evil is to promote it. Being salt is not a cut and dried affair, but requires a careful prayerful decision with the leading of God. One example is how many believers took a stand against slavery and Christians killed their brothers in fighting for its abolition in this country. Men on both sides were convinced that they were doing the will of God. Political and cultural change is not necessarily the goal of the Gospel, but an outcome from it. Jesus and His immediate successors ignored most of the political treachery of their day in their teachings, but demanded personal integrity before God and man. As a result the first church established refuges for abandoned children, widows, orphans and sick of their society. So the exhortation to love God first and then your neighbor had a profound effect on the unbelieving culture. As a believer I am convinced that I am called to bring justice wherever it is in my power to do so and to be the hands of God in defending the vulnerable and the victimized. Although there are some causes that may not run counter to the cultural mindset, am I ready to swim upstream to be true to my calling as ‘salt’? Can I do so without being abrasive, obnoxious and condescending? Will I act whether or not I am recognized or admired? Do I need the approval of my peers or is it enough that God endorses me? Do I act to gain reputation or to honor my Savior? Have I prayerfully sought direction or has my righteous indignation inflamed me to act on my own impulses? Do I insist that my cause should be every Christian’s cause? The questions are easy to ask but the answers require courageous soul searching and openness before God if our actions are to be truly significant.
I tremble at Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ”Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ and I will declare to them, I never knew you; “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (The NLT here says “Go away- the things you did were unauthorized”. Knox says ‘You were never friends of mine’) We can identify other Christians with apparently unauthorized works – for example the Wesboro Baptist church in their harassment of military families at their time of grief and loss. As a believer I find that behavior reprehensible. They must deem it honorable, but what really matters is what God thinks. I don’t want to be thinking I am serving Him when I am serving self or doctrine or something else. Thomas aKempis faithfully reminds us in The Imitation of Christ: “Be not proud of well doing (Job 9:20); for the judgment of God is far different from the judgment of men, and that often offendeth Him which pleaseth them (men).” Hmmmmm
Being salt as a preservative is no easy undertaking! Making rules for outsiders may be wrong in certain situations, but the opposite of that is not then necessarily right or moral. It seems like there are many legitimate responses to the commands of God in our role as salt. I have to answer to Him for my choices. This demands my absolute attention! And mercy!!