Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Christian's Place in Society: Salt, Light, and a Force for Good

Selections from Matthew 5:13-16

"You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

The Christian has a clear place in society. He is not to seek glory and honor for himself. He is not to simply scold the culture. He is to be a force for good. We deduce from this biblical teaching that we are not to separate from society but to plunge ourselves into it in order that our good works would show and the Father would be glorified.

Wherever the Christian is, you should see light. Wherever the Christian goes, you should taste salt. The life of a Christian should look and taste differently than the life of an unbeliever. Goodness, holiness, love, and conviction should emanate from the believer. Christians should pursue placement in all levels of society. We ought not to aim solely for the lower class, the middle class, or the upper class. We should come together as one diverse, glorious body on Sundays and then scatter all over the place throughout the week. As we go, we brace ourselves for hatred and condenscension, ugliness and awkwardness. If such elements are not in our life, we are not blessed, and we are not tasting like salt and looking like light. The Christian's place in society is to do the work the Lord places before him. He need not worry over that work or see it as a subpar duty. The Lord calls few to ministry and many to non-ministerial vocations. It is His design to do so. So Christians should labor with joy in their callings, knowing that they have been placed in that post by God to be a light to their specific group of peers. It is essential that we grasp this notion of placement. God is sovereign, and so we do not "end up" in different places and jobs--we are placed there to smack of God.

The Christian's calling to be a force for good necessarily involves the proclamation of the gospel, however. Believers rightly recognize that all work done for God's glory is honoring to the Lord and thereby valuable, but they also realize that they were not saved simply to labor productively and cheerfully but to flood dark places with light. The light beams when the gospel is shared. It is right, then, that believers of all vocations and backgrounds actively work for the spread of the gospel. God places us in society, gives us diverse tasks and duties, and these are all good, but He also bids us share the gospel with the lost (Rom 10). Christians are right to witness on the weekend at the mall or on the beach, but in calling most of us to non-ministerial vocations the Lord has directly answered our prayers to be witnesses to the lost. Again, you are placed in your work for a reason. Your work is your mission field. Strive to be the best employee you can be, but strive with equal effort to be a faithful witness. The Christian's place in society is always that of missionary, whether to elementary schools, to fellow stay-at-home moms, to corporate elites, or to construction workers. In all of these places and to all of these people, the Christian must look, and taste, different.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dad said...

A little off the topic, I referenced your blog on Christians being hated in my Tuesday Bible study. We were on Rev. 11, and it fit right in. Just thought I'd let you know that you have become a resource/authority!

Yes, may we be holy while working in an unholy work environment. That really calls for wisdom, grace and strength.

Al (not Owen's dad nor that other "Al" either.)

2:33 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gould said...

Owen,
Great article; thoroughly encouraged. I did wonder if you have any thoughts on practical steps a pastor can take to visibly lead his congregation in being salt and light to the community, outside of the preaching of the Word both publicly and privately to the congregation. Thanks.

4:12 AM  

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