Monday, February 28, 2011

Are You Salty?

Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear (Luke 14:34-35).

One thing is certain, a disciple of Jesus Christ is not to be bland. A Christian ought to be earnest. He ought to be plucky. He ought to be divisive.

If you find that last fact shocking, or perhaps even errant, then I wonder if you are being salty enough. Behold the context from which that quote comes:

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Lk. 14:26). Jesus then urges his listeners to count the cost of being his disciple. One of those costs is this: if you cling to Jesus above all others as your only hope, you will be alienated from others that you love. You will become, by virtue of your faith, a divisive person.

This is not to say that Christians should be belligerent and try to stir up trouble. Certainly, we ought to heed the wise words of our Master and be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." However, if we are never ruffling feathers, if we are never irritating people with our convictions, then we simply are not being New Testament Christians. Jesus said this, "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother" (Luke 12:51-53).

This divisiveness that Jesus brings is one of the most detestable things in our culture. Our culture values peace above reason and justice. It values obfuscation above forthrightness. It values doubt above certitude. It finds absolute truth claims in the area of theology, philosophy, and therefore morality to be nigh ludicrous. Therefore, if a person asserts the fact of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the reality of eternal judgment to come, or if he should condemn an act as sinful, then he is in danger of that dread label of "fundamentalist."

This is not rant or a complaint; I want to be clear about that. It is a simple observation that, in this life, the Christian cannot avoid these things if he wishes to be salty and therefore useful. We have the only Savior who can actually save. We worship the only God who is actually God. We have the only book that is actually inspired. If you believe these things alone, you will automatically become a persona non grata in many circles.

Let me end this little post with a couple of exhortations. First, just because people will think you are an imbecile does not mean you have to act like one. You do not have to cruise for fights, and you do not have to act indignant when they come. Just remain calm and faithful, and be prepared to give a reasonable answer for the faith that you hold dear. So think about these things: One: Have your convictions caused any friction lately? Why or why not? Is it because you are actually being abrasive? Or secondly, if you have caused no friction, is it because you have ducked opportunities to be salty?

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