stirring up the pot

There are Christians on every side, well, both sides here in the United States, who want to stir up the pot and shake things up. In society and politically. And for some good reasons sometimes on either side, I think.

In Jesus’ the Sermon on the Mount, we read these words:

“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 underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

There is nothing more important for us as followers of Jesus in society than to live out our calling from God. Jesus’ words here about his followers as salt and light are in terms of their adherence in faith and practice to this sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. Surely also in terms of the rest of God’s revelation in Jesus, through his life and teaching, but in the immediate context, relevant to the sermon itself.

Instead, I think we Christians are often caught up in this and that. Not only secondary things or issues, but a different basis altogether, philosophically in a way which disconnects us from, or at least distorts the calling we have from God in Jesus.

How can we stir up the pot on issues like abortion, healthcare, help of the poor, peace between factions and whatever other issue is on our front burner (or back)? Through both our own example of life and the good works we do we need to live by the standard set already. And in doing so, we will indeed not lose our saltiness, or not have our light hidden.

Does that mean we abandon the politics of this world? That will be a controverted point. I think not. We at least can express our views concerning it, hopefully in a constructive manner. But we must not place our confidence and hope in such a place. It has its limitations and inevitable failings. It is not of the kingdom that has come in Jesus.

And yet, the point here, how we live and our good works, can point the way for the world in a better direction. A direction which seeks peace and holds human life in high regard, which seeks to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

If our goal is some kind of Christianized society we at best better beware. There is only one society of Jesus and that is the church. I believe we paid for cultural Christianity in the past, and the price was steep. Yes, we want a society for the good of all, the state to function as God intends. And we will debate on what that should look like. But we must hold on to the truth that there is only one source of shalom for this world. It is in Jesus the Messiah and the kingdom of God that has come in him, found in microcosmic fashion now in the church. Let us agree and be firm on that. And live and work from there.