Saturday, October 3, 2009

salt and light

So, this past week the young adults group at my church started . . . a new year, with new ideas, and a new look. Much about how this group will look has changed since last spring when we finished for the year. While I'm usually not one to embrace change quickly or easily, I'm really excited about this year and where we're going. A focus on community and service, rather than just providing another "church service" option. This past week we talked about how sometimes our heads can get full of knowledge and keep growing, but because we never put action to what we study and learn our hands and feet, and ultimately our hearts, are very small.

It was something that challenged me to do a lot of thinking in the past week. I love to study and learn more, and there's really nothing wrong with that . . . as long as it translates into action at some point. But, I know I get caught in the trap of it stopping at my head - at being something that I know and can talk about quite intelligently - and I think that's the case for many other people too. We know it all - we can respond to challenges to our faith. But, we hide in our churches and with our Christian friends because it's safe. We don't have to put ourselves out there.

But, the more I think about it and read Scripture, the more I'm convinced that's not how Jesus calls us to live. Jesus calls us to actively help people, to actively engage in conversation with people. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus says this:
"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. 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise
your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:13-16)

Jesus calls us to be salt and light in our world. If we're always hiding where it's safe, how much are we really being salt and light?

It's not even possible to shine light on the darkness in our world if we ever do is spend time with other people who are already living in the light. Our light does nothing than make that space a little brighter, but when we go into dark places with our light we can make a big difference.

It's also not possible for us to be salt to our world - to be people who bring a different flavour or way of looking at life - if just hide with other people who think and live like us. I wonder if sometimes when we never get out of our safe worlds we can get to the point of having too much knowledge and too much salt in one place, and it then becomes a detriment to us.

We need to get out and be the salt and light in our world that we are called to be.

I'm as guilty as the next person of hiding in my safe Christian world. My family and friends are Christians, I'm quite involved in my church, and I work for a Christian organization - all of those things make it quite possible for me to live in a world with only other Christians. But, I'm not so sure that this is a good thing for me . . . actually I know it's not. And, so I'm learning how to be intentional about developing relationships with the non-Christians in my world. People such as the couple that runs a cafe near my work where I often go for lunch or coffee, the people in my apartment building that I see regularly in the halls. Building these relationships takes a little of my time, but it's really no that hard to be friendly and smile when I see them and stop to talk rather than just rushing by all the time.

I think each of us, no matter what the world we find ourselves in the most looks like, have people to whom we can be salt and light. But, maybe, just maybe, it will require that we be willing to stop and actually see those people as people and take the few minutes at a time to start building a relationship with them. Being salt and light doesn't mean we just go up to people and preach the Gospel to them. It means we take time to build relationship and live the Gospel in front of them as we do so.

What about you? Who are the people in your life that you can be salt and light to? Your family? Your friends? Your co-workers? Your classmates? Your neighbours? What are the steps you can take to begin to build those relationships with them that will allow you to be salt and light in their world?

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