Friday, December 11, 2009

Salt and Light

Salt and Light
Deacon Dale Matson 12-11-09
“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. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13-14).
In our weekly office meetings the clergy will sometimes discuss some of the bigger issues of the Christian life once the business of the Cathedral is conducted. The question this week had to do with the extent that Christians should be caught up in the cares and concerns of this world. Our Lord encourages us not to worry (Matthew 6:31) but does this mean that we ignore the concerns of this world? St. Paul states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
As Christians, we are engaged in a cosmic struggle with evil. We are called to be Salt. Salt is both a flavor enhancer and a preservative. Certainly prayer is an important tool of the spiritual warrior but so is testimony. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).
There are two caveats I would offer when we take the time to care about what is going on in our world. The first is a question. Is this concern a distraction or is it an issue that requires that you go beyond concern to action? In the smaller issues perhaps modeling what you want to see is the best approach. For example, instead of scolding folks about littering, in the letters to the editor, you could pick up litter on your morning walks. This is a Christian witness and prompts others to do the same. It is not the hypocritical self righteous Christian scolding of the non Christians once again. It is important for the Christian to also play a prophetic role in society. This means that when big issues arise such as an unjust war or violations of human rights one should speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This can be done through financial support, correspondence, signing petitions and living a life that reflects that value. We may pray but sometimes we must also act. The late Thomas Merton, a reclusive and silent Trappist Monk believed the Vietnam War to be immoral and was moved to publicly write and travel to speak against it.
Merton was motivated by love to speak against the war. This is where we are called to be the light of the world. The light is the “why” part of change. If we offer the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others, they will gain ears to hear and eyes to see. Their hearts will be changed and their minds will follow. John Newton, who wrote the Hymn “Amazing Grace”, was the captain of a slave ship. Following his conversion to Christ, he was an outspoken opponent of slavery. “I once was lost but now I’m found.”
[Bishop]” will you persevere in resisting evil…..” [People] “I will with God’s help.” Amen

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