I recall as a child thinking of the church as a hideaway from the world, and the church building as a beach house on our own private religious island. Sunday was kind of an island vacation where we could go and escape the grunt and grind of school and work and worldly people. Another reason I thought that was because I would see so many men snoozing and even snoring in their church hammocks (pews) during the sermons until their wives gouged them in the ribs and brought them out of it.
Of course we all know, or do we, that this is why the church at times is so odorous. It has been said of Noah’s Ark that the only reason they could stand the smell inside with all of those animals was because of the flood outside. In any event, it was either stink or swim. So too, people who always take in truth and never give it out to others begin to smell like moldy saturated sponges that are never squeezed out. The church likewise at times also resembles a floating zoo.
Not only that, but introverted church islands and islanders always end up fighting the wrong enemy – each other. In point of fact, instead of being island paradises, they more often than not resemble Gettysburg and Little Bighorn.
SALT RESTRAINS CORRUPTION
If we as believers live our lives as the isolated religious elite on our private islands which we purchased by our offerings, as many church people think they do, we cannot and will not fulfill the role that God would have us carry out in society when He tells us in Matthew 5:13,
“You are the SALT OF EARTH.”
He did not say that we are saltwater vacationers on our church islands. He did not say that we are the salt of our families, or the salt of our churches, or for that matter not even the salt of just our neighborhoods. He said that we as the followers of Christ are the salt of the entire earth. Churches can so easily become insulated and isolated ecclesiastical islands, rather than the righteous salt shakers of the Lord shaken out upon humanity to restrain spiritual/moral corruption and decay in this world.
Salt is worthless when it is kept in cozy church containers. It is then that Christians are good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men (Matthew 5:13) I mean, how stupid of me to buy salt for the ice in the winter, and then leave it in the bag in my garage. What idiot would do that? One of the Greek words for “Foolish” in the New Testament is “Moros” from which we get the English word “Moron.” Guess what keeping the salt in church bags makes us?
It is because of the saltless church that we have a society that morally speaking eats dirt and drinks out of mud puddles and calls it normal. Saltless churches are why society is suffering from severe spiritual-intestinal disorders and moral dysentery. Until the modern church once again becomes salty, we shall continue to breath in the foul air of immoral landfills across the land.
Jesus isn’t ordering us here to solve the current and complex interrelated problems of global economics. He is not asking the church to come up with a cure for cancer or AIDs. He is not requiring us to design some huge political initiative that will solve all of the world’s problems in a single swoop.
But He is calling us to stop the spread of unrighteousness and untruth on every front. That is what salt does – it halts spiritual/moral corruption and rot. The people of God must be God’s constantly-shaken salt shakers against pre-marital sex, divorce on demand, abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography, assisted-suicide, medical marijuana, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and on and on it goes.
This means aggressive social, political, educational and governmental involvement on the part of Christians in this world. This means using every vehicle possible to spread the salt of righteousness in our communities – the press, radio, television, internet, billboards etc. As in Pastor Jerry Lawson and Daystar Church in Cullman County Alabama who put up billboards with the words,
“GREAT SEX – GOD’S WAY,”
advertising a month long series of sermons on what the Bible says about sex. Many in the area are upset because of that salty church. Looking at those billboards is like salt in their eyes.
That is being the salt of the earth. That is being the Kingdom of God. Much of modern heathendom thinks that they can spread their anti-God, anti-faith, anti-moral absolutes corruption wherever and however they want to, because they have this idea of the church that it is filled with “Dumbos” and “Dopeys.” But the moment Christians become salt in the community, the world cries, “Extremists.” That is indeed the best evidence that the church is indeed being the salt of the earth.
In Pulpit Helps the results were given of a survey in which 7,441 pastors were polled as to their views on foundational doctrines of historic Christianity. 51% of Methodist pastors, 35% of Presbyterian pastors, 30% of Episcopalian pastors, and 33% of American Baptist pastors indicated that they did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Among those 7,441 pastors, asked if they believed that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God, 87% of Methodist pastors said no, 95% of Episcopalian pastors said no, 82% of Presbyterian pastors said no, and 67% of American Baptist pastors said no.
Sorry, there isn’t enough salt among those clergy and their churches to fill one very small doctrinal salt shaker let alone one very small moral salt shaker. I have this conviction:
“THE PASTORS TODAY WHO DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SALT IN THEM TO STOP DOCTRINAL
HERESY DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH SALT TO STOP MORAL CORRUPTION.”
“WHEN JESUS CALLS US THE SALT OF THE EARTH, HE IS NOT TELLING US TO MAKE
TRUTH TASTIER AND MORE PALATABLE TO CHURCH ATTENDERS’ TASTE BUDS,
BUT THROUGH THE PLAIN AND UNCOMPROMISED TRUTH TO RESTRAIN
MORAL CORRUPTION IN SOCIETY.”
Why? Their self-indulgence, gluttony, indifference to the poor and homosexual rot left a putrid taste in the mouth of God. There was no seasoning of righteousness to save them from Divine wrath and judgment. We read about Sodom in Ezekiel 16:49,
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had
arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she
did not help the poor and needy.”
As it is with such societies, they think and even teach that gluttony, materialism and perversion are not sins whatsoever. God had different ideas, and when he poured out fire from Heaven upon them, you could hear Him shout:
“LIAR, LIAR PANTS ON FIRE.”
When some modern religious types conjure up the “Sodom Image” in their minds, they think of the homosexual who is fisting the rectum of his male pervert. Or they think of the crack addict who wakes up on his urine-soaked mattress at 3:00 a.m. with a can of stale beer and an ashtray of cigarette butts next to him. Or they think of the “Hooters Waitresses” that are flaunting their wares selling “Sex Burgers” and “Sex Beer.”
Strange, none of the above are mentioned in Ezekiel 16’s description of what God found bitter to His taste in Sodom and Gomorrah. Oh I am sure those elements were there in ancient form. But what was so unrighteous about Sodom was their complete neglect of the basic needs of their fellow man. Poverty and social disorder, dysfunction and dislocation were rampant then and are rampant now in Sodom’s sister America. The hungry masses need food. The thirsty need water. Shivering street people in the Michigan winter need a warm coat as well as shelter from the elements. The homeless need a place of dignity and hope.
When the hungry, thirsty, ill-clad, homeless, sick and imprisoned people are ignored by the masses, this too is “Sodomy.” Oh yes, now and then we give a pittance to charity to salve our consciences. Which is comparable to the surgeon who robotically sews up the patient while there are still some very important body-organs lying on the operating table. “An extreme analogy,” you say! Not in God’s eyes! Sodom and Gomorrah are more than places in Scripture. Rather:
“SODOM AND GOMORRAH ARE METAPHORS FOR TOTALLY SALTLESS SOCIETIES.”
If you want a picture of modern Sodom, I remember the obviously frustrated, obese husband and wife recently in Wal-Mart who were lumbering along behind their piled-high shopping cart which was overflowing with among other things snack crackers, Twinkies, wine and beer. Why frustrated? Because ahead of them in the checkout line was the patience-trying young couple in tattered blue jeans shyly and embarrassingly paying for their meager groceries with those disgusting food stamps that take up so much time to be processed. There was not enough salt in the impatient, obese couple’s lives to salt one of their crackers. They were disgusted to be made to wait for these young leeches. I was looking at a form of “Modern Sodomy!”
LIGHTS IN THE DARKNESS
Jesus says Matthew 5:14 about his disciples,
“You are the LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”
Again, Christians are not the light of the church but of the whole world. We are to be the universal light of Christ, so that wherever we are in this world, the light of truth breaks through the darkness. It is one thing to complain about how spiritually and morally dark the world is becoming. Rather, as the Christopher Society states:
“IT IS BETTER TO LIGHT A SMALL CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS.”
“HUMAN NATURE BEING WHAT IT IS, OFTEN THE MOST VOCAL CRITICS
OF SOCIETY AND GOVERNMENT ARE THE LEAST INVOLVED.”
Frankly those who stay huddled on their cozy church islands and who are always complaining how bad the world is becoming, are more often than not the moral equivalents of 25 watt bulbs. They cast more eerie shadows than radiant beams of light.
ACTING ON WHAT WE KNOW
Well then, now that we know who we are, we must pay strict attention to the words of John McMurry:
“ALL MEANINGFUL KNOWLEDGE IS FOR THE SAKE OF ACTION.”
“KNOWLEDGE IS POWER ONLY WHEN WE ACT UPON IT.”
Our biggest shortcoming is not in what we don’t know, but in what we do know and have done nothing about it. I agree with the book entitled Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. We have known about and deplore racial discrimination for eons, but it is quite another thing to stick your neck on the line to eradicate it. Thank God for the Martin Luther Kings and Rosa Parks who have gone before us at a great price. As is always the case:
“OTHERS HAVE LABORED, AND WE HAVE ENTERED INTO THEIR LABOR.”
THE ANTI-GOD OPPOSITION IS INTENSIFYING
We read in Romans 8:7,
“Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God….”
The carnal, unregenerate mind is hostile to God. if you will, it hates God, for that is what the word in the Greek means – enmity. The pro-Christ and anti-Christ warfare in post-Christian America is intensifying because those who are strong in their anti-God hostility are growing in numbers and malice.
While on the flip side, researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., conducted surveys in 1990, 2001 and 2008 which indicate the percentage of those who call themselves Christians in America is drastically shrinking. The only group that grew in every American state since 2001 is those who say that they have no religion. Christians will more and be outnumbered and vehemently opposed on every front in the remaining years of planet earth.
Just when we as the salt of the earth think one day that we are gaining ground , the next day we seem to be losing more than we gained. I witness to a precious open minded young man about Jesus’ love for him and death for his sins, and he goes off to one of our secular colleges and the forces of darkness swallow him up. Have you ever lost a drawstring that somehow got pulled into that tiny but deep, dark, narrow, circular hole in the waistline of your sweatpants? Frustrating isn’t it? I could just scream.
Multiply all of that by a zillion painful emotions when you see a young student being drawn back into the heathen ideological holes of our modern campuses. I weep as I see him slipping away from us into darkness, and I no longer can get at him. I pray for another opportunity. I pray that the salt poured out upon him will restrain the rot of untruth, and the seeds of truth sown will take root and grow.
I close with this. I am a basketball nut from my birth. My youngest son graduated from Tri-Unity Christian High School in Wyoming, Michigan where he played basketball for the Tri-Unity Christian Defenders. At every home game, one of the varsity players from Tri-Unity opens the game with prayer, be their opponent a public or a Christian school. That blessed tradition has continued to this very day.
Now Private and Christian Schools are being told that they cannot pray at athletic events. any longer. The “Illinois High School Association” has issued an edict banning prayer or religious messages over the public address system prior to IHSA tournament games that are hosted at private schools. Even if two Christian schools are playing each other with one of them as the host school, and even if both of them want to have the prayers and always have had the prayers, they still would not be able to do so. Their First Amendment rights are being violated, and now court proceedings on behalf of the schools are pending.
The Christian Schools in Illinois are not taking this sitting down, but are taking their “Salt Campaigns” to the court rooms of Illinois and giving them a taste of righteousness. God help them! God help us all. I pray that the court room will be so salty with righteousness and the plaintiffs will become so thirsty for it, that they will drop to their knees looking like dying prospectors at a dry waterhole.
A Christian college student by the name of Jeremy Sonnier and his friends are asking a federal court to protect their rights to share the Gospel on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University. Jeremy Sonnier was stopped by campus officials and informed that he must meet certain requirements to engage in free speech. Jeremy must provide seven days advance notice before he can speak. He must disclose a variety of personal information, including his social security number and the purpose of his speech. Also, a time limit of two hours once a week is imposed, as well as a fee could be imposed. Jeremy’s attorney vows that a lawsuit will be pursued until he has First Amendment rights restored.
I am getting off my island, prayerfully filling my salt shaker at the moment and I will be calling both of these educational institutions and sprinkle some Biblical and Constitutional salt in their ears. So should we all. It is who we are and that is what God’s salty kids do! We know our calling so that we can’t say to Lord one day, “If we would have known Lord that this is what you wanted all along, why by jiggers we would have acted differently.”