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Leading the Church

Becoming Salt and Light

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
How is your seasoning? One of the key objectives of Francis Schaeffer's work was to help Christians think and process who they are in Christ. In so doing, one would look at God's precepts and then work them out so he could better be salt and light in the world in which we live. Schaeffer found, both as a pastor and in his early personal practice of Christianity, too much shallowness, preoccupation with trivialities, and what he saw as "irrationality."

How is your seasoning?

One of the key objectives of Francis Schaeffer's work was to help Christians think and process who they are in Christ. In so doing, one would look at God's precepts and then work them out so he could better be salt and light in the world in which we live. Schaeffer found, both as a pastor and in his early personal practice of Christianity, too much shallowness, preoccupation with trivialities, and what he saw as "irrationality." This was one of the causes to his crisis of faith that led to his recommitment to the Lordship of Christ and what he called God's "true-Truth." He noticed that seemingly half of all Christians were overly passionate about trivialities such as the evils of playing cards while unwilling or unable to produce an ounce of fruitful living or maturity. He observed that the other half were preoccupied with non-essential doctrines like the "end times nonsense and madness" of the early 70' as well as the then rising fad of false teachers. Additionally, he noticed both of these groups were "choosing to remain silent?" with their faith and thinking. Thus, when they heard their neighbors and friends becoming more relativistic, thinking all religions were the same, they retreated from the application of their personal faith. He also saw the consequences that resulted from a lack of growing faith to a lack of leading to an absence of civic political involvement and nonexistent social action.

In my conversations with Schaeffer on this matter (and there were many), he stated many times: too many people, Christians included, are adrift on a sea of irrationality. These conversations centered on a root cause for all these concerns; what we hypothesized then was the lack of biblical knowledge and thinking. Now, after thirty years of intense research in this matter, I can say that he was dead on right! Churches then were starting to teach less and less, while its members were becoming more and more lazy and apathetic with biblical truth and the application of faith. (Of course, it is far worse today.) This was spearheaded from a refusal of discipleship and a lack of practice of the faith. Christianity was becoming more and more regulated to a small slice of life and time 10 a.m. on Sundays while being absent Monday through Saturday. This is why we have the mess in America now; the "good" people sat in the pews and did nothing while the "bad" people went to city hall and to Washington. The outcome of a lack of salt and light led to the downfall of the Church and America!

This problem of a lack of salt and light has been our mantra for this ministry for over thirty years. We believe that the lack of Bible study and Bible knowledge are two of the root causes of the problems that most Christians face, because without this knowledge, they are unable to make healthy and wise decisions. The lack of salt and light is also one of the root problems that most, if not all of our local churches worldwide face. Our churches are riddled with conflict and strife when we have been called to be a light in darkness, salt to a flavorless world, and a haven of rest. We are not discipleing, so we are not reaching our neighbors and we are not effectively involved in the civil matters of our government. Our churches are a mess and our cities, states, and nations are even worse, all because of our lack of the practice of faith resulting from our apathy. The problems have persisted and grown since Schaeffer passed into God's glory in 1994. Yet, we the Church have chosen to ignore our call, retreat from the public and political sphere, and place our focus upon our selfish needs, quests, and unbiblical theology, when it needs to be upon the foot of the cross, on understanding who Christ is, and what He did for us as revealed in His Word.

Thus, you can see why it was Schaeffer's passion to help us as followers of Christ to have a deepened faith that was not attached to pettiness and/or superficiality, but focused on the Person, Work, and Word of our Lord Jesus Christ. To have Christ's true Truth and then allowing it to be applied and ingrained in our lives, as salt was used during the time of Christ. He often taught (Matthew 5) that we must be salt in the world. I vividly remember being in the L'Abri chapel around 1980 as he slacked over the podium, read the text, and engaged in a dialogue with us, the audience, on how can we make this so when we find the world and ourselves adrift on a sea of irrationality? I have been pondering this for nearly thirty years, spent many years writing a commentary on Matthew, and many more years trying to practice this.

Jesus gives us a Call to Flavor, Light, and Preserve

When we engage the text of Matthew 5:13-16, we are given a very short illustration that is the key passage for the application of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12). We may glance over it or use it as bumper sticker and leave it at that, thereby missing its imperative stance. When Jesus presented this sermon, this picture would have been well understood. Jesus was calling His followers to consider their role in the world to be influencers of the world! This means not to hide from it, ignore it, be alienated from it, or have an "us versus them" mentality. Schaeffer's thinking was captivated by the concept that we have to find a way to be influencers (Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23) while at the same time not allow ourselves to be influenced negatively by wayward actions such as sin and corruption (Matt. 6:19-24; 32; Luke 12:13-21; 1 John 2:15-17)!

This passage ties into the last "beatitude" where Jesus warned us that the attitude the world would take on the offense to the things of God and attacking us for following truth and righteousness is because they do not want to be reminded of their sin nor convicted of it, so they turn it around on us, as if we are in the wrong and they are merely exercising their freedom of the will (Matt. 5:10-12). This was as much a problem when Jesus walked this earth as it was in Schaeffer's and our time. We tend to keep our salt of influence on the shelf, unused, and our light of faith turned off. We focus on the wrong things and tend to withdraw from what we are called to engage or overly take on and thus become like the world (John 17:5; Titus 2:12)!

The call is simple; we are to be different and set apart only in our thinking and virtue. We are still to be involved in our society, in building relationships, and giving of our efforts toward a better society and world. We also need not be afraid to confront sin and evil, always doing it in the parameters of the Christ-like qualities of love, care, and hope while not abandoning our stand or dignity as His child (Rom. 12:1-3; Eph. 4:17-5:17; Col. 3:5-11)! Simply put by Schaeffer: Although our hope is in eternity and this earth is our temporary home, we are still to do our best while we are here. As Martin Luther stated, There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow (1 Pet. 2:11).

The question and quest for us all is how are our saltiness and luminosity? At the time of Jesus, salt and light were two essentials for life, especially in the ancient world that had no refrigeration or preservatives. Salt was more than just a spice for seasoning; it was an essential food stabilizer they used (before there were modern conveniences) so people could eat unspoiled food and not get sick and die. Salt was also a means of commerce as the Romans sometimes even paid their soldiers in salt.

The other main illustration given here is "light," and it is just as essential for us as it was for them. Light was and is the needed medium that enables us to see; when the lights are out, we cannot see. In John 8, we see Jesus making one of His famous "I Am" statements I Am the Light of the World! This is Jesus' bold statement that He fulfills the Law and the promise of God to bring salvation to those of faith! It means God is the utmost of significance in the universe and thus must be so in one's life. Jesus fulfilled this as God, the source of light and life; now, this blessing is not just for Israel, but is offered to all of humanity (Ex. 13:21; 25:37; Lev. 24:2; Neh. 9:12; Psalm 19:1-11; 27:1; 80:3-19; 119:105; Isa. 9:2; 42:6; 49:6; Ezek. 1:4-28; Hab. 3:3-4; John 1:1-5; 3:16-21; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46; 10:22; Eph. 5:8-14; 1 John 1:5-7).

We as Christians reflect the Light of our Lord; this also was a popular Jewish expression during Jesus' time, meaning to have or to show God's blessing. As we reflect His Light, we become blessings, like saying to someone have God's face to shine upon you. When we walk in Christ, we exhibit His presence and blessing that are like sunshine on a cloudy day. When we turn off the light to His Word, how could it impact or instruct us? This conveys the power of the illustration Jesus gives to us: what good would a disciple be if he/she did not live as they are called; they would be like salt that falls in dirt is useless! Or if a city turned out its lights how could people find it or navigate in it (Num. 6:24-26)?

Our call to be salt is not just for a seasoning, but also to be proactive with our faith. We are not to be just sitting in a pew with our correct doctrine and never doing anything with it! Nor are we to engage in bad doctrine and then evangelize the world with our non sequitur nonsense. As salt is needed and put to use, so likewise are you and your church. For us, salt enhances flavor and is key to our digestion; thus, we need it to digest God's Word so we can be the help for others to see their role in Christ and society (Job 6:6).

But if the salt loses its flavor

The contrast of being God's blessing with the illustration of His Salt and Light is not to have salt or light exhibited in one's life. Like real salt that is a preserving agent for food, this means if you do not use it, you will physically get sick and perhaps die. If you refuse the Light of God's grace, you will be in spiritual darkness that is the realm of Satan. You will skirt around or fight against God and His provision and sovereignty. You will fall into sin and miss what God has for you and your church. Walking in sin is walking in darkness, and causes us to stumble like walking in a strange place without light or the ability to see; God offers us the light and the map. Our pride says no! I will do this on my own and thus, we fall into hurt and ruin as sin destroys. As a result, our churches become dysfunctional, our families chaotic, and our nation fallen because of our stubborn pride and apathy (Psalm 27:2; Isa. 59:10; Jer. 13:16; 18:15; 20:11; Mal. 2:8; John 9:4; 11:9).

We can overcome the darkness by just turning on the Light! We can persevere; use your salt! We must keep the faith and be accountable. Just as pure salt never loses its flavor unless it is diluted with impure substances, so we must be careful not to be influenced by the people we are called to flavor and light! We must not allow bad logic or faulty reasoning to be our focus. In addition, to keep this illustration going, salt is a preservative; so we are to preserve not only our own faith but others' as well. That means we are to thwart the corruption in the world by being examples and instigators of action and involvement with virtue and morality, tempered with love and care.

Jesus warns, but if the salt loses its flavor, meaning to what good would we be to be given the greatest gift ever conceived and yet do nothing with it! What good are our education and faith and reason if we do nothing with them or become corrupted by those whom we are to inform and reform? Jesus warns us against losing our ability to flavor and preserve, so be careful when you do engage the world. You are His salt, and you are to help make the world more "palatable" that is, more livable and manageable so you and others can know God. With Christ's empowerment, we can even take the "distastefulness" and wickedness away to please God. (Christ's role is the ultimate wrath appeaser.)

We have to bear in mind Satan's influence too (Luke 4:5-7; John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19) and be diligent to countermand evil. Christ is the light of the world and Christians are the light for the world (John 8:12; 2 Co 4:6; 9:12-13; Eph. 5:8-9; Ph 2:14-15; 1 Pet. 2:9-12). We are called to arise and shine to the world! That means we receive His light and then pass it on to others around us (Isa. 60:1-3; Luke 1:78-79; Eph. 5:14; Rev. 21:23-24). Even though the world is in darkness, we are still to give light to it in morality, conviction, and care (John 1:15; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Why be Salt and Light?

Because Jesus calls us to! But, it seems that is not enough or else more Christians and churches would be saltier and more florescent. Just think and pray about the wondrous implications of justification, which are our true riches and our access to God through the Holy Spirit by what Christ has done. So, what do we do with the gratitude for who Christ is and what He has done for us (Rom. 5:1-11)? We have to open our eyes to the magnificent aspect of what Christ has done for us. We need to see the joy (James 1:2-4) and the hope (Heb. 6:18-19) we are given. This is foundational to life and liberty.

This gives us motivation and hope. Without hope, we cannot persevere in life effectively as we would give up and become captivated by correction or oppressed into drudgery, enabling our faulty thinking and spiritual apathy and dysfunctional outlook of our call spill over to the civil life too. This hope gives us the road to drive our maturity and spiritual growth on so we can process our faith with sound reason and action. As we go through life, we learn; and when we learn, we grow; and when we grow, we develop character and hone and improve our worship of Christ. This builds our personality and our thinking ability and lets us be used better in the lives of others. Our character and what He is doing in our lives are our true treasures. This richness is so much more tangible and impressive than what the world offers. To take this hope to new levels and apply it with passion and conviction, we have to see who we are in Him. We must be careful that our faith is developed from God's nature and not ours! This hope will not just fuel our liberty but also our worship because we will praise God for what He has done. Do you realize what He has done in you?

When we are the Light, we reflect the Gospel message. The Gospel is the continual functioning of divine power, because it is the means by which all who place their faith in Jesus Christ are transferred from the realm of sin and death into the realm of the Spirit and life! This is the message the Church needs to live out. This is the message the world needs in order to function. The great fundamental aspect of life is that we have been saved and redeemed, receiving salvation when we realized we needed it! We who are justified by faith now have peace with God. Thus, we are to rejoice in our hope (of what He did for us and Heaven to come), and rejoice and glory with faith in the midst of the troubles of life. The abundant love of God was shown to us when He reconciled us to Himself by the death of his Son while we were still unworthy sinners and His "enemies" And to top it off, God assures us of our salvation, and motivates us to rejoice and glory in Him, no matter what happens or what we go through, because He has gone through more.

We are right with God because of Christ, not because of our faith and obedience; but faith and obedience are the fruit and proof. Thus, salvation is not logic or knowledge, but a gift of the ability to be logical and knowledgeable (2 Cor. 5:17-19). This is not optimism or wishful thinking, but the fact of the love of God moving in our lives. As Christians, we have Justification; this means that not only has God forgiven and accepted us, He has covered us with the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, you are pleasing to God, enabling you to be that smile on a cloudy day to a stranger and to be a major world changer as so many great Christians have been. This is the essence that drove the Lincolns and Wilberforce's of the world and that can drive you and your church too.

Being the Light is using our justification not just as insurance from Hell, but as a lasting source of blessings to countless people living in darkness. Our confidence is in Christ and His character, so we can be that needed beacon. The barrier that had separated us from God has been removed. So, show the way to the path of our Lord. Show the abundance of our riches in Christ, how wonderful it is to be a Christian through love, hope, joy, and grace. Your salty life can show others the peace, the reconciliation that proves we are no longer His enemies as we were when we were in sin. We have assurance and hope; our sin and guilt have been covered and removed from His sight. However, it must be accepted and received by faith. This understanding helps give us our contentment as well as our motivation (2 Cor. 5:20)!

Will it be Shallowness and Irrationality or Salt and Light?

To cement the premise, we must be salt to engage the world, and we must be light to show His Light. To remove our shallowness and preoccupations to trivialities as well as our irrationality, we must look to what Jesus did for us. The Gospels give us the image of our loving and gracious God who transcends the boundaries of our sin to give us His grace. This grace saves us; but it also does so much more. It gives us the joy to endure the harshness of life. He gives us the hope to persevere and make our lives purposeful and meaningful. He does this with His Spirit and His love! He gives us access to Himself. It is God's abiding love that keeps us attached in grace and purpose for His glory. Alone, we would quickly fall away into our sin, and forget who we are in Christ, just as the Israelites did throughout the Old Testament, especially in Judges, chapter 2. The Holy Spirit is the glue that keeps us sticking together. He takes us, His enemies by our sin, and reconciles us so we are no longer enemies, but rather His friends (John 14-15).

Our service must not be guided by our desires or our needs. When we think "we are all that"(holy) we are of no use to Him. We are reduced to isolating ourselves into a sub-culture when God calls us to be salt and light. Our goal is not to serve, but to be His child, and that devotion will lead us to serve. This is what keeps the "good" people inactive and uninvolved, the salt on the shelf, and the light dimmed. To regain our salt and light, we must keep our eyes and our minds on Him! It is about regaining our identity of who we are in Christ, and nothing else. Once we fully realize that the love of Christ has been poured out in us, we can identify ourselves in Him. Then we can do the work for Him. We will be able to identify Christ's interests in others over our own interests (John 15:3; Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 9:22).

We need not be frustrated or filled with worry when we have Christ because true service is doing for others what we do not like to do. What good would our faith be if it was just read or placed in a frame on the wall, but never adhered to or put into practice (2 Cor. 12:15; 1 John 4:17-19)?

Do you have a dimmer switch attached to your relationship with and call from Christ or is His Light your full-fledged Lord and Guide? Do His precepts illuminate your mind, heart, and will or are their stipulations causing you to reprogram your dimmer with busyness, apathy, or something else, causing His Light to be dim in your life and walk? Do not allow your life to be dim and/or your saltiness less or you may slowly find yourself so far away from the Light you will be making bad choices and living in darkness and dismay without enjoyment because of your own apathy and/or pride (Psalm 73:25; 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 5:21-23; Col. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:5, 13-21)!

Be light and salt in a dark world and then pass it on. For light to be light it must be visible! Just as the illustration about salt, what good would be accomplished if you hid that light from others? Get off the couch and pew and be good! Go where the people are; yes, we are able to be salt and light! However, we are to be the salt and light without being taken in and affected negatively by those people. We are never to take the philosophy and trends of the culture, rework them, and put a Jesus stamp on them when they are against Jesus' teachings and character! We are called to be retroactive and proactive with our faith in the church, in our families, and in our community and world. Because we are citizens of the kingdom, we are called to give the world "flavor" and that flavor and light must be from God's point of view and character, not from our presumptions and fallen thinking! As we are called to impact and influence the world, we are not to become influenced or impacted by that world ourselves (John 13:35; 17:21).

What happens if you feel that you have lost that flavor or light? Remove the impurities and the sin and that which goes against His Word and character! Take an inventory of your apathy level and your heart for our Lord. As light, we are to worship Him as a lifestyle and attitude, then radiate and proclaim the praises of God, (you have to be converted and convicted before you can spread it) to family, friends, and the world. In so doing, we proclaim the Word as evangelists in our spoken word and also through modeling it (Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24; I Pet. 2:12)! We are to influence our culture and creation, (that is our society and environment (Gen. 1:28-30; Psalm 8:6-8), for the positive! By being salt and light, we are glorifying our Father in heaven (Luke 16:9)!

How is your seasoning? What do you do to be a positive influence to those around you? As Christians, we cannot afford to remain silent in a world that is embracing irrationality. As Schaeffer often said, the unity of orthodoxy (Christianity) must be practiced and centered and grounded in Truth. This is not easy, but it is absolutely necessary. Remember: by being salt and light, we are glorifying our Father in heaven (Luke 16:9)!

If only these things were carried out into something in the power of the Holy Spirit... into the totality of life, as salt and light... that we might make a change and save this country from utter tragedy. Help Thou us, so we ask, and we ask it in no lesser name than the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb and our God.

Francis A. Schaeffer (cir, 1982, as a closing dialogue at the Churches he spoke at, and from his work, A Christian Manifesto)

© 2010, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Research from 1980- 2010 Krejcir, Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development

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