BLOG 10/13/17. HOW TO BECOME SALTLESS SALT: FORGET WHO YOU ARE
Do you remember the warning given by Jesus that even though his followers are to be the salt of the earth, that if and when they lose their self-consciousness of that purpose, that they become salt-less salt and not good for anything except to be thrown out? And, likewise, that they are to be the light of the world, but if they lose their conviction of this calling and purpose, then the light that is in them becomes darkness? This is one of the subtlest pathologies that continually afflict the people of God—just to become so over-familiar and comfortable with the language of faith, and the traditions of the faith, that we forget how and why we are called in the first place.
This was true of the Jewish folk in Judah in the 8th century BCE. They had become complacent in their calling to be a light to the other nations, had settled-in to the routines of temple worship, and had lost their ability to hear God or to see God or to respond to God in obedient living, . . . that there was nothing divinely unique about them anymore. Isaiah gives the poignant description of Jerusalem as an empty city laying meaningless, and with all its rejoicing having reached its eventide (Isaiah 24:10). That unique people of God had forgotten who they were, and forgotten their divine calling and mission. That description reminds on of many ostensibly ‘Christian’ communities, alas!
This is happening continuously today in so much of the Christian community. One astute observer notes that whenever a Christian community dilutes, displaces, or forgets its reason for being, . . . then it reverts to chaos, to a state of being that has no integrity as a true Christian community. This is so sad to watch, and so omnipresent in this post-Christian era. Christian communities may begin well as missional outpost, with the design to be faithful demonstrations of God’s new creation in Christ. Ah! but so soon they become distracted by their own inner life, or with the building of church sanctuaries, or with being attractive by virtue of their well-crafted worship services and outstanding preachers, . . . so much so, that they dilute, displace, and forget the very reasons that they are called by Jesus Christ, and their purpose to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Forgetfulness. They become, rather, stagnant pools of ‘religious Christianity,’ devoid of the meaning for which Christ intends his church.
As such they no longer energize or equip or encourage or hold accountable each other in their lives of obedience in their 24/7 lives, and their accountability to Jesus Christ as the living demonstrations of his new creation outside of their church gatherings.
And, tragically, once on this path they become immune to their true calling. More and more, such communities are inhabited by sincerely religious people, but people who cannot for the life of them give to anyone else a reasoned account of their hope in Christ, or of what it means to be called to be God’s new creation. Does that sound dismal and pessimistic? Yes. But God’s mission is usually accomplished by first generation communities of obedient discipleship, which throb life and excitement about their Savior, and about encouraging one another in that calling. They know that the task is humanly impossible, so they pray diligently to be refined and empowered and guided in lives of faithfulness, of being salt and light.
Once that passion fades into forgetfulness, chaos returns. The salt of the earth becomes nothing more than a comfortable escape into religion, but not a religion that is built upon the rock of Jesus’ teachings and discipleship. There! I’ve said it (again), but the battle never ceases. Stand by …