Salt and Light Serpents and Doves

Recent news stories surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana and Arkansas illustrate just how front and center Christians and those who favor Christian values are in today’s market place of ideas. One could argue that the only reason it is necessary for the same sex marriage supporters to “re-educate” the culture is because of the influence which Judeo-Christian worldview has had upon the mores of  Western society.  Like it or not, the Christian worldview is under attack. Do we defend the faith as previous generations of believers have been faithful to do or do we retreat to safety and comfort like other generations have done?

The reality is no amount of softening up will appease the world until the doctrines which define Christianity have been neutralized and even silenced. This is true because the teachings of Christ and the Bible run counter to the appetites of humanity left to itself.  Put another way, apart from spiritual revelation through Christ and His Word, the human race is largley unwilling to submit the control of its desires moral restraints. We want our way and we’re willing to stomp our feet and make a scene until the rules are changed in our favor. So if we concede that Scripture really doesn’t condemn sin eventually the Lordship of Christ will be targeted as passe, irrelevant.

Several verses from Jesus come to mind under the rubric of Cultural testimony. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus claims that His disciples will be the salt and light of the world. Interestingly enough, He does not say that He wants us to be salt and light but that we are salt and light. The implication is that once we begin following Him we will stand out in the crowd by virtue of our relationship to Him. By inference we may conclude then that when we cease standing out, we cease following Him. If we are on target in this interpretation then standing up against darkness will be first nature for His followers. We have no choice but to make known the Light even at the expense of losing favor with the culture.

A second teaching comes to mind from Matthew 10:16. Here Jesus is commissioning His disciples to preach the gospel throughout the countryside. He warns them that He is sending them out “as sheep amid wolves” and for them to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  One mistake we often make is failure to use tact in dealing with the wolves. Jesus often used tact. He met inquirers with questions of His own, forcing the questioner to examine his position and purpose for asking his question. He met the obstinate with silence and was severely treated for it. He met sin in the religious world head-on with a whip and a lecture.

The challenge Christ’s followers face in today’s corrupt culture is being salt and light with wisdom and peacefulness without compromising the truth or becoming vindictive.  But we can learn from others throughout history who shone brightly in their season of darkness. Some were eventually crowned as heroes like William Wilberforce in slave-trading Britain.  Others like Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany, died in apparent disgrace only to be vindicated posthumously.

The bottom line is that it is the Christian’s instinct to shine light into darkness, not to yield to the encroaching darkness. We dare not crave the approval of the culture more than the approval of our Savior. If we do, we will lose our culture and perhaps our souls too.