The Salt of the Earth

Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. John 17:18 NLT

How did the Father send Jesus into the world? Did He send Him to a monastery where He spent all His time alone making sure He never came in contact with the world? No. The Father sent His Son into the world to work in a carpenter shop until He was 30. Working in a carpenter shop, He had a boss to please as well as demanding customers. He had deadlines to meet. He had tools that broke at the most inopportune times.  He certainly did not spend every waking moment sitting on a mountain top reading Scripture. He was thrown into the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That was how the Father sent Jesus into the world, and that is how Jesus sends us into the world. 

As Adventist Christians many of us struggle with being in the world without being worldly.  Many of us try to isolate ourselves from the world but that clearly is not the answer. 

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Matthew 5:13 NLT 

Salt is a preserving substance and, in order for salt to accomplish its purpose, it has to be mixed into the food. Salt has no saving influence sitting alone in the cupboard. Likewise we need to be mixing with the people of the world in order for our saving influence to be felt. As inconsistent humans it can be hard to find the right balance of being in the world but not of the world. Jesus is our only consistent example. 

Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts. He often repaired to the mountains for solitary prayer, but this was a preparation for His labor among men in active life. From these seasons He came forth to relieve the sick, to instruct the ignorant, and to break the chains from the captives of Satan. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 151 

Notice Jesus did not just tolerate their secular affairs. He took an interest in their secular affairs. Being a Christian does not mean we isolate or quarantine ourselves from secular activities. After all, we will be building houses and farming in the new earth. We won’t be sitting on a cloud playing our harps all day. Being a Christian does not mean removing yourself from secular life. Being a Christian means taking Jesus into our secular life. For example one day at a Christian school where I was subbing one day a group of boys asked me to pray with them before their basketball game with another school that afternoon. They wanted to have a fun game that would be a blessing for all involved including the other team. They wanted to take Jesus into their secular activity. 

Here is what someone giving the testimony of Jesus shared to both parents and teachers.

Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship. -Ellen White, Adventist Home, Page 192

The testimony of Jesus is very balanced. While we need to guard our Christianity in playing sports, we also need to guard our Christianity in church board meetings too. I’ve heard some people say all sports should be condemned because they saw cheating, lying and corruption at a sporting event. Well I have seen cheating, lying and corruption in church board and church business meetings too. Shall we ban those also? No! We must bring Jesus into those meetings and into our leisure hours. We must make Jesus a part of our sporting activities as well as our church board meetings. We will not help Jesus win the great controversy between Him and Satan by hiding in a monastery. We help Jesus win the great controversy by bringing His righteousness into our workplace, our public school classrooms and our neighborhood and communities. 

We need Jesus to help us find the right balance between being in the world and not of the world. While the testimony of Jesus encourages us to live in the country, it also encourages us to do mission work in the cities. Just because we live outside the city does not mean we don’t still have a work to do inside the city. There is a balance. Jesus was very balanced between the mountain and the multitude and those who bear His testimony are balanced also. 

About 13 years ago an older gentleman from church asked me to go with him to the golf-driving range. I literally had no interest in golf. I thought it was the most boring thing in the world, but I went to be sociable. He told me, “There are souls to be won on the golf course.” That afternoon I became hooked on golf! It may be boring to watch but sure is fun to play. Meanwhile over the last 13 years I have found myself having spiritual conversations with people who would never talk to me inside a church. I started Bible studies with one of my golf buddies  and baptized him. My friend was right. There are souls to be won on the golf course. 

Last Christmas my church was stunned and heartbroken when Larry, one of our older members died suddenly. I performed his funeral where I met several people from the community. They shared with me how Larry touched their lives. A few of them were from the neighborhood diner where Larry often ate. Waitresses and customers told me how Larry shared Jesus with them and even gave them Bible studies. Even though Larry is gone now ,other church members are continuing to frequent the diner and share study guides, carrying on the legacy that Larry began. Larry did not hide from the community to be a Christian. Larry brought Christ with him into the community and into that diner. Larry was the salt of the earth or at least his corner of the earth. Will you allow Jesus to make you the salt of the corner of your earth? Larry made friends for God. Will you make friends for God? 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 11

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS Lesson asks, “What can we learn from the mistakes of many in ancient Israel? How can we avoid doing the same things today?”

I think as a whole we have the same struggle ancient Israel had when it comes to a proper association with the rest of the world. It appears to me, that either we join them in “Baal worship” or we have nothing to do with them whatsoever.  Jesus showed us the perfect balance to take.  In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Salt is to have saving qualities. At the same time, salt must be mixed with the food in order to have any kind of savor. Likewise we must have some association with the world. Please allow me to share some quotes from the classic Desire of Ages and Ministry of Healing, that may help us find a healthy balance.

As disciples of Christ we shall not mingle with the world from a mere love of pleasure, to unite with them in folly. Such associations can result only in harm. We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence. Wherever we go, we are to carry Jesus with us, and to reveal to others the preciousness of our Saviour. But those who try to preserve their religion by hiding it within stone walls lose precious opportunities of doing good. Through the social relations, Christianity comes in contact with the world. Everyone who has received the divine illumination is to brighten the pathway of those who know not the Light of life.   We should all become witnesses for Jesus. Social power, sanctified by the grace of Christ, must be improved in winning souls to the Saviour. Let the world see that we are not selfishly absorbed in our own interests, but that we desire others to share our blessings and privileges. Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting. Let all who profess to have found Christ, minister as He did for the benefit of men.  –Desire of Ages, p.  152

  Jesus saw in every soul one to whom must be given the call to His kingdom. He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. He sought them in the public streets, in private houses, on the boats, in the synagogue, by the shores of the lake, and at the marriage feast. He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household, bringing families in their own homes under the influence of His divine presence. His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.– Desire of Ages, p. 151

     Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”–The Ministry of Healing, p. 143

How big of a mission field do you have as an ambassador for Christ? How many non Christians do you have on your cell phone contact list? In other words how many non Christians do you come in contact with on a friendly every day basis?  How many non Christians do you have as Facebook friends? Are you being exclusive and reclusive like the Pharisees or are you reaching out to the world in the same way Christ did? Christ calls us all to be missionaries. He may not need us to go overseas but He may be asking you to leave your big comfy church and Christian Community and move to a dark county where there are no churches for miles and start mingling with the people there and start a new church. He may be asking you to drop out of your church softball league and join a secular league where you can reach people you could reach no other way. I am just thinking out loud here, but you get the idea. 🙂 In Isaiah 58 God tells ancient Israel that while they thought they were worshipping God by debating theology in the temple with their friends, that real worship is going out to share His love and mercy with the world.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.