Are You Being Salt And Light In the World?
Notable atheist Sam Harris (best known for his controversial book Letters To A Christian Nation) recently commented on the role that religion plays in the many conflicts of our time. He wrote:
We have Christians against Muslims against Jews, and no matter how liberal your theology, merely identifying yourself as a Christian or a Jew lends tacit validity to this status quo. People have morally identified with a subset of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole.That last line, which I marked for effect, was the one that bothered me the most because I'd like to believe that as a Christian, I am dedicated to following the example of Jesus.
And it seems clear that Jesus truly identified with humanity as a whole. Jesus easily moved among people of all races, genders, classes, and religions--speaking truth to them, loving them, accepting them and seeking to move them closer to God and their true selves.
Then, Jesus exhorted his followers to be "salt" and "light" in the world.
By saying that he wanted his followers to be "salt," Jesus meant he wanted them to bring out the "God-flavors" in the world so people would be able to (in the words of an ancient Hebrew poet) "taste and see that God is good."
He wanted his followers to be "light" so they would enable people to see more clearly where God is at work in the world and to help them see themselves more fully as they are meant to be.
The problem is, most of us Christians tend to stubbornly avoid being in a relationship with people who are different from us, or who might who disagree with our beliefs. Many Christians live in fear of being contaminated by the culture around them and begin to avoid it altogether.
Philosopher Alan Watts once wrote, "People get scared, they herd together, they wear the same clothes and the clothes just get duller and drabber."
It's time that Christians began to live out their faith in more life-giving and generative ways. If we say that we would be like Jesus, then we need to learn to define what it means to follow him in positive, rather than negative terms.
As Christians, if we want to show that we truly love others and that we want the world around us to be transformed in positive ways--then we have to learn more fully what it means to be salt and light. And this means getting up close and personal with all kinds of people, especially those who may not share our views.
May you bring out the God-flavors in the world around you today. May you enable others to see both God and themselves more clearly because of your loving and light-giving presence.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.