~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782
Shame on me. I haven't participated in Jean's great meme in ... forever. But then again, I also haven't been doing any blog work whatsoever, which means I have also neglected (for several weeks) my own meme, Founding Father's Quote Friday. I don't know if I will ever get back into the blogging saddle any time in the near future. So don't worry; my absence (total silence for that matter) doesn't necessarily mean that the USCC Facility has gotten me yet! ;) Soon, I hope to post a video for a future WFW, citing several portions of Scripture dealing with the state of the church in the Last Days.
Today, I would like to just write about something that I have been thinking about for a while, concerning one of the pieces of Scripture that is often called the "culture mandate." It is Matthew 5:13-16:
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.This passage, which states that Christians are the salt and light of the earth, is, as I have just said, referred to as the "culture mandate." Now, as we are so often prone to do, we accept such explanations concerning the Scripture, when such explanations sound good to us, and we take such claims for granted, and consider them to be true. This is what I did rather unconsciously until I found myself thinking through this "salt and light" passage again, particularly in light of its context. While this statement has been used to encourage Christian in the United States to "get out of the shaker" and take an active part in the political process, in education, and in media (and it is commendable that Christians take part in these things and propagate godly standards in those places of life), that is not the command that Christ is trying to give us here.
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.
Notice that Jesus does not say "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt stays in the shaker, how shall the earth be seasoned?" Notice now, what He does say: "You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?" The last clause may be read accurately both ways: "If the salt loses its flavor, how shall it [earth] be seasoned?" and "If the salt loses its flavor, how shall it [the salt] be seasoned?" The implied answer is, of course, nothing else can season the earth, because nothing else can season the salt of the earth.
Jesus is not telling us to go out into the world and change our culture for Him. I think that, compared to our Great Commission, which is preaching the Gospel to every creature and making disciples of every nation, is of far greater importance and urgency in God's eyes, than keeping the culture afloat.
This is the thing I think that many believers in America are missing. Polls reveal that American Christians find it easier to discuss politics than the Gospel, and that Christians are more associated with conservative political views than with the power of Christ that transforms lives. I think that we have so under-emphasized that Gospel, and that we are trying so hard to maintain the shell of a Christian culture, that was the product, and not the cause, of an active working of Christ and the message of the Gospel in our nation's past.
We forget that God's intent for America was not to bring democracy and prosperity to the nations of the world. It was to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the earth. We are missing that. All of us need to repent of this sin that we have committed, by putting country and patriotism before Christ, and in effect, taking from the reverence that our nation should hold for Him.
Rather than simply making the point of this post a correction of some wrong ideas, I would like to present a personal challenge to my readers (including myself -- didn't you know I read my own posts? :D): are we doing what we can to be salt and light? Are we tasteless? Do we hid beneath our baskets? Are we letting our good works shine before men, and if so, are we doing it so that our Father in heaven may receive the glory, or do we have other reasons for doing good works?