This past week is an interesting week in history. If you have watched the news or listened to the radio at all, your ears would have been filled with reminders of the civil rights movement in our country years ago - a necessary and positive change.
You would also have been reminded of the legalization of abortion for any and every reason - a crime against the lives of millions of American children over the last 44 years.
I had a bit of ironing to do, so this afternoon I drug everything out and put on one of my favorite movies to accompany the task.
Amazing Grace is a movie that should be in the viewing library of every Christian family. It is the true story of William Wilberforce, a British parliamentarian who made it his life's work to improve conditions in his country. Over the course of time, he made life better for poor people and animals, but his greatest accomplishment was the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain - which led the way for the eventual abolition in the United States as well.
This has been on my mind a lot lately, and these verses came to mind:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV
Salt is an amazing thing! It is used for more than just a kitchen seasoning, it's uses begin with food preservation, such is in "cured" meats and range through medical uses like fluid IVs and catheter cleansing.
Even when it is "thrown out in the road," it is still potent. We live in the Great White North and use salt to melt ice on the roads.
Our bodies require salt - during my childhood, my father owned a business which supplied feed for farm animals. One of the products that we always had on hand were salt licks - it is that crucial the health and well-being of the body.
I googled salt to see when it loses it's flavor and discovered that it doesn't. It has an indefinite shelf life unless it exposed to a lot of moisture - but even then, it is still salty
What can make salt lose its "saltiness"?
It occurred to me that this verse is saying that the one one-and-only-thing that can make us ineffective as Christians is sin.
Just like salt is effective in a variety of places: to season or preserve food, melt snow and ice, clean and purify, etc. God places each of us in a particular situation - our time in history, the country and culture in which we live, our family and circle of friends - so that we can season the environment with God's grace, melt hard hearts, and even bring purity into a situation.
But if our lives are contaminated by sin, we will be able to do none of those things.
Matthew Henry, a renowned theologian from Wilberforce's time says this on the subject:
"Mankind, lying in ignorance and wickedness, were a vast heap of unsavoury stuff, ready to putrefy; but Christ sent forth his disciples, by their lives and doctrines, to season it with knowledge and grace, and so to render it acceptable to God...If you, who should season others, are yourselves unsavoury, void of spiritual life, relish, and vigour; if a Christian be so, especially if a minister be so, his condition is very sad; for he is irrecoverable: Wherewith shall it be salted? Salt is a remedy for unsavoury meat, but there is no remedy for unsavoury salt. Christianity will give a man a relish; but if a man can take up and continue the profession of it, and yet remain flat and foolish, and graceless and insipid, no other doctrine, no other means, can be applied, to make him savoury. If Christianity do not do it, nothing will."
But our Purity is just one side of the coin.
Just like Salt represents our purity, Light represents our influence.
God did not place us here to sit in our houses and not allow our lives to touch anybody else, or to keep our faith "private" and not share Hope with people at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, or any place other that we frequent. He put us here to SHINE!
I think about the life of William Wilberforce. In the movie you can see the struggle he has in his desire to sit quietly with God or to answer the call on his life to action. I've gotten the same impression about Martin Luther King Jr. from documentaries I've seen about his life. He was content to pastor a small church - yet the call to action was simply too great to ignore.
God is calling US.
First to stay pure, then, to act. Both sides of the very same coin.
What does this look like in everyday life?
It will be different for each of us. For some it will mean making a purposeful time to study the Word of God with our children. Maybe for one it will be laying your hand on the shoulder of a friend at work who is hurting and offering up a prayer for them in that moment. For another it may be teaching a Sunday school class or taking on a civil injustice.
But God's Word is clear: as we offer ourselves to Him in a holy act of worship, His plan for our lives will be revealed.
*Quotes from the movie Amazing Grace