On June 13, 2015, David Brooks startled the world.
His editorial for the New York Times, “The Next Culture War,” chastised the Christian Church for a “…public obsession with sex.” (1) He added that the Church had lost the culture war.
The world views all religions and cultures equally. Religious beliefs vary from culture to culture with no one interpretation surpassing another. The world suspects and then rejects universal religious solutions.
A new religious standard exists:
Syncretism: the merging of parts of various religions into one’s own religion;
Ecumenism: the elimination of fundamental Biblical doctrines so that various Christian denominations can find “common” ground and join together;
tolerance (for my views but intolerance for your views); and
autonomy, individualism in belief.
The world system alters centuries-held definitions. Morality has changed into preferences, without any objective basis. Circumstances govern situational ethics. Morality varies from person to person with equal value given to differing opinions.
The depth of spirituality now relies upon personal experience instead of objective truth. Individuals no longer experience dissonance with culture. A dusty void replaces truth and character.
A new societal standard emphasizes the freedom to worship but rejects the freedom to practice religion in society. This subtle change permits religion, i.e., Christianity, to exist in society but not to practice its beliefs in the greater community. That alteration forbids Christian witness, Bible distribution, and other activities used by Christians to spread the gospel message into our culture.
Furthermore, the world rejects the gospel of Christ, calling it irrelevant. It makes concerted efforts to deny its authenticity with its attacks upon the Bible and the legitimacy of Jesus.
For years, culture has waged war against the Church, resisting its influence and active participation in societal affairs. The Church listened to the world and divided between renewed efforts upon social issues or removal from public concerns.
Neither approach conforms to Biblical direction for the Church. In His Sermon on the Mount, which the world revises to advocate its agenda, Jesus described the function of His Church in the world. (2)
The Salt Of The Earth
Jesus called His disciples “…the salt of the earth.” (3) In Christ's day, salt served two functions:
to fertilize soil; or
to enhance food flavor. (4)
Salt’s qualities enrich the environments where placed, soil or food. Salt makes food pleasant and palatable. (5) In soil, it works as fertilizer, to increase the yield of crops.A little salt goes a long way. It penetrates its surroundings and transforms them, improving them. (6)
Jesus used this familiar picture to explain the purpose of His disciples in the world. He intends for us:
to mingle in society, not withdraw from it; and
to enrich it by our presence and beliefs. (7)
In like manner, Christians act like salt in society. We enter our culture with our gospel touched lives. We affect our world, season it, and transform it where we live. The savored salt of Christ followers blesses the world. (8)
The verse highlights these meanings when it describes the result of salt’s lost savor. The loss of savor by heat, water, or disintegration rendered salt useless for its original intent. (9) Christ demands that His followers maintain their savor.
Unlike salt in Christ's day, which could become useless beyond repair, believers can experience spiritual revival and renewed usefulness.
The Light Of The World
Jesus added another series of pictures to describe the purpose of the Christian Church in the world. He called His disciples, “…the light of the world.” (10)
Jesus used two prominent examples of light to apply the picture to His disciples. (11)
A city on a hill
You have probably seen pictures from space of our nation taken at night. You can spot the major cities by the lights. You can see a city on a hill because of its lights, too. You cannot hide either of these displays. They show in stark contrast to the darkness of night.
A light on a candlestick
In Christ's day, Jews used lighted candlesticks to light their homes. No one covered their candlesticks. They wanted the light to shine throughout the house to overcome the darkness.
Light illuminates and overcomes darkness. Without it, darkness prevails.
Christ followers receive their light from Jesus, the True Light, and take it into the world. Our words and deeds, which manifest Christ and Christian truth, take on the nature of light. Their true nature and attributes shine into a dark world. (12)
The Influence Of Salt and Light
Jesus delivered the gospel of His kingdom to His disciples, and it extends to all of His followers. Jesus’ authentic teachings form the basis of the Church. The gospel of Christ gives a message:
about sin and humanity’s wrong relationship with God because of sin;
about God's provision for sinners in Jesus Christ His Son;
about repentance and faith toward Christ; and
about the future of this world.
Jesus pronounced a mission to His followers. The Christian Church, the gathering of the community of Christ followers, demonstrates in the world, like salt and light, the truth of the gospel in practice and reality.
Dr. John MacArthur summarized it well:
“In these four verses the Lord summarizes the function of believers in the world. Reduced to one word, that function is “influence.” Whoever lives according to the Beatitudes is going to function in the world as salt and light. Christian character consciously or unconsciously affects other people for better or for worse. As John Donne reminds us, "No man is an island." (13)
Christians must act like salt and stand as lights in a dark world. We dare not lose our savor nor hide our lights.
I urge you to accept your responsibilities before God, without regard to the world’s errors and standards.
Shoulder your task as salt and light by manifesting by word and deed the gospel of Christ in a dark world
Brooks, David. New York Times. “The Next Culture War.” June 30, 2015.
Logos Bible Software, v. 6.4. Faithlife Corporation. 2000-2015. “New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology,” “salt.”
WORDseasrch 10. Codeweavers. 2012. “Barnes’ Notes On The New Testament.” Re. Matthew 5.13.
Logos Bible Software,v. 6.4. Faithlife Corporation. 2000-2015. “Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible.” Re. Matthew 5.13.
WORDsearch 10. Codeweavers. 2012. “The Complete Word Study Dictionary,” “salt.”
Logos, NIDNTT, Ibid.
WORDsearch 10. “Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.” “Light”
WORDsearch 10. MacArthur. “MacArthur New Testament Commentary.” Re. Matthew 5.13-16.
“Who first coined the saying 'A camel is a horse designed by a committee'? I don’t know, but I expect it was the same person who said 'An elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications'.” (1) This bit of trivia induces...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Now, learn the truth about revival. Discover what every Christian should know about it in 10 minutes. The current condition of the Church requires an accurate, Biblical definition of revival. The many fallacies of revival cause confusion within...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Timothy Keller does. Do you? Take 10 minutes to learn 7 quick ways to avoid them. Warning I cannot emphasize enough the significance of Keller’s errors in his article, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople.” (1) They...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
“…when the Son (Jesus) cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18.8) Jesus never accepted unbelief! He challenged his own to believe fully; indeed, He often rebuked his disciples for their unbelief: their fear in the...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” (1) Error turns into accepted truth as it gains popularity. The popularity of evolution blinds the eyes of multitudes to its Biblical errors, especially when...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Do you make these two errors that Timothy Keller makes? In his anti-Biblical science, Keller imagines that all humans can hold two fundamental beliefs because of mankind’s naturalistic evolution. Keller supposes that traits necessary for...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” (1) Poor Eve. She never knew what hit her. It all sounded so right. The serpent asked a simple question: “Did God say…?” When Eve answered...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, HI. Immediately following the attack, President Franklin Roosevelt described that day as a “…date which will live in infamy.” The President’s...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
A new wave of Bible thumpers has emerged. Politicians join religious leaders in quoting the Bible, yes, the Bible, to support their agendas. Not surprisingly, Pope Francis has quoted the Bible in his messages for reform. To the astonishment of...[ abbreviated | read entire ]