3 Biblical Precepts Resolve Church Controversy
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 God;
- 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.
- Matthew 5.13-16.
- Matthew 5.13.
- 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.
- Logos, Ibid.
- WORDsearch 10. Codeweavers. 2012. “The Complete Word Study Dictionary,” “salt.”
- Logos, NIDNTT, Ibid.
- Matthew 5.14.
- Matthew 5.14-15.
- WORDsearch 10. “Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.” “Light”
- WORDsearch 10. MacArthur. “MacArthur New Testament Commentary.” Re. Matthew 5.13-16.