It is hard not to become angry and disheartened with what we see around us today. Our government seems to be out of control, our elected officials are incompetent and act like comical snake oil salesmen of the old Wild West, liberalism and relativism and greed appear to be the new cultural religions of the day, our faith is the center of constant attacks, and in a world that demands mutual respect differing opinions are labelled mean hearted and uncaring. I’ve even begun weening myself off the news and news apps on my iPad to slow the constant flood of junk the media pours out each day.
I asked myself, how our “Christian” nation could have fallen so far so quickly? How can people be so blind and treat justice, truth, and goodness with so much contempt? It made me want to shake some sense into the world but just recently God has gotten my attention and reminded me of a few things that have really changed my outlook. Sometimes you just have to get off the merry-go-round for a while and regain your balance.
I recently had the opportunity to do just that while vacationing in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. You just can’t keep from running into God when faced with the magnificence of His creative work. While there he brought to memory the teachings about being in the world but not of the world (John 15:19, Romans 12:2). That we are to be pilgrims in this world, and not permanent settlers. We are to be servants and not rulers. We are even warned not to become familiar and friendly with the world that Jesus said would hate us as it hated Him…why do we forget this?
This is a bit uncomfortable isn’t it? I began to realize that I was assuming the world around me was Christian. That all the bad I saw was some how my Christian world crumbling around me and I had to save it. This doesn’t appear to be what Jesus meant or intended for His Church. The world, even our temporarily (from a historical perspective) Christian nation, is not what is supposed to be Christian, nor the “light on a hill”, nor the “salt of the earth”, nor our home. It is the Church, the Body of Christ, we who are supposed to be Christian. I shouldn’t be expecting the world to be kind and supportive of my faith just like the early church wouldn’t have expected it. They knew very well that they were a pilgrim church afloat in a world directed by the enemy, just as we should consider ourselves.
Is the Body of Christ the light of the world, YES, is it the salt of the earth, YES, but we should not get lazy and expect that the world will be anything other than in the control of the prince of this world. He would like us to put our trust in a “Christian” nation rather than learn, live and teach our faith. He wants us to believe that the loving thing to do is mold our faith to the culture instead of showing, through our lived faith, why the culture should desire our Lord. He wants us to expect and desire change from outside rather than working to be changed from the inside.
It’s time for me to stop grumping about why a sinful world acts sinfully. It’s time for me to pick up my cross and walk daily with those within arms reach and be the light of the world and the salt of the earth to them. The early church knew that the “blood of the martyrs was seed.” They knew that they were in a rough and alien land but hoped their example and daily expressions of solid faith would be the seed of change. I have to start remembering that I am a pilgrim journeying for a short time in this sinful world and Jesus is calling me and you, not the world or our nation, to be a light that others may see.
Pick up your torch and walk to the top of your hill so that all can see. We are to be the light of faith, hope and charity for others in this culture of darkness. Let’s stop expecting others to do it for us.