Monday, July 1, 2013

Being salt and light.

     In Matthew 5, our Lord commanded his disciples (and of course, by extension, us) to be salt and light of the world. In Matt. 5:13-16 -->

     "13 “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 underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven"

     Notice how Jesus says that we are to be the salt of the earth. Salt, before the days of refrigerators, was used as a preservative. In this case, we can see that Jesus was commanding his sheep to be a preservative, but this time, of a moral nature. 

     He goes on further to command us to be light. Light so that those around them (non-Christians) and they can turn and believe in God. This light was meant to be an example to others... An example in terms of moral uprightness and how through the gospel, we have that power to follow God. 

     This command to be light harkens back to Deut 4:5-8, in which God told Moses:
Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

     Notice that God is commanding Israel to observe all the laws and statutes that they were given. And that Israel's loving obedience to the law of God is to be an example to other nations, so that they can marvel at Israel's faithfulness through the grace of God, and that through this marveling, those nations would come to repentance. The connection between Deut 4 and Matt 5 seems pretty obvious to me. 

     I have often wondered how those who refuse to act as salt and light in this world (individual Christians and churches) think of when they come to verses like this. And I have often wondered whether these Christians ever actually think of the implications (theological and practical) of their refusal (whether cowardice, "deep" theological convictions to not "confuse" the kingdoms, or just plain ignorance) to engage with culture. 

     For instance, because of the increasing decay of our society, and the church's inability and refusal to speak out in a loving yet bold manner, and to engage the culture in a meaningful and heartfelt way (media, evangelism, education of our kids, you name it etc...), we end up coming up with situation such as homosexual marriage being accepted, and in fact celebrated.

     For the church to continue to refuse to engage, we will eventually see more and more Christians actually thinking that homosexuality is acceptable. This will become even more of a problem also when we start having more and more Christians who think that it is OK and entering into churches that are "conservative" (I'm not talking about the PCUSA, they have been dead for many years now). Homosexuality, due to the SCOTUS decisions, will most likely be even more "commonplace".. How will those Christians who feel that homosexuality is acceptable properly evangelize to those that happen to be homosexual? How is telling someone that his homosexuality is acceptable pleasing to the Lord? If a homosexual happens to attend a church, and is denied membership, I could easily see situations in which his Christian friend (who thinks it is OK) would leave the church...What will the session or the church leadership do then? 

    This is already happening in a similar way. At a PCA church in Southern California, the pastor started talking about the sinfulness of homosexuality, and a good portion of the congregation simply got up and left! 

     Because of our lack of epistemogically consistent engagement in larger society, I could even foresee situations in which a homosexual could become "converted", through say, evidential apologetics (which is actually how I came to believe in Christ)  but still has no concept that homosexuality is wrong. He then goes to a church, or perhaps the church that has been working with him has never mentioned this issue to him because they dont want to "offend" him, and now, there is a really big problem on the leadership's hands... He is still a practicing homosexual and yet claims to be a Christian, and now is asking to be a member of the church..... 

    Another example, with the PCA being so big, you have a wide range of churches.. Some that are super conservative that you almost feel that the women should wear head coverings, and some that you are embarrased to tell you that they are in the PCA.. I could even foresee an issue in which a young man  who is a ministerial candidate who has been so indoctrinated into the American culture, that he feels that homosexuality is completely acceptable.. What does the presbytery do then? Well, of course they would't pass him... But, this really speaks to the larger issue of how this candidate could have even gotten that far and his socio-political views go unchecked.. I know a PCA pastor who listens to Eminem on a regular basis. Having a candidate think that homosexuality is acceptable is not that far of a stretch...  Even Lee Irons' wife (current elder in the PCA, former pastor in the OPC) is such a big homosexual marriage advocate, and yet he has never told her to take her website down, and in fact, most likely endorses it.

     I have seen a similar thing like this in several PCA churches that I have been a member of in the past. The member(s) was in a relationship with a non-Christian, and in two of those cases, the Lord was exceedingly gracious and the non-Christian love interests were converted. Yet, through out this "courtship", there was no attempt made by the ministers to lovingly rebuke the members' for their dangerous pursuit of that non-Christian love interest. I even brought this issue up one time, and ***I*** was the one that was being rebuked for not "understanding" that person's situation, and he simply doesnt't understand what he is doing is wrong, and that shouldnt be enough to bar him from communion. (!!!)

    Why do these churches let this happen? Because, those churches have been so bought into the culture of having a "boyfriend/girlfriend" and that having a boyfriend or girlfriend in the secular American sense is acceptable, when at best, it is highly unwise, and at worst, it is downright destructive to the Christian (and I am only referring to two Christians becoming "boyfriend/girlfriend.").. Or perhaps, it could be simply fear of offending the member because that member wouldnt "understand".. All the more reason to correct the member, if he doesnt understand!

     The point behind my bringing this up is that if we have churches failing to correct church members for something as obvious as those members being involved romantically with a non-Christian, and even still letting a member take communion (!!), if a minister cannot even bring up the issue of a non-Christian and a Christian being involved, it is only a matter of time before you will start hearing PCA churches start accepting openly and practicing homosexual people as members of the church... The PCUSA did it... Who is to say that the PCA is immune (or any other reformed denomination, for that matter)?

    This is what happens when we as the church fail to engage and have that mindset of being salt and light in the world. This is what happens when we don't confront people with the law of God (week in and week out) because we are so focused on this ridiculous hyper-grace redemptive historical preaching that is completely devoid of application for fear of being "moralistic" or "fundamentalist." If that were really true of preaching application, then 1 Cor, Proverbs and a good portion of James should never have been written. When we dont confront with the law of God in preaching, we dont do it in various situations for fear of offending or perhaps we are so used to not doing it, that it simply doesnt enter the mind. 

     May God continue to raise up strong men and women who understand the importance of law and gospel both. 

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