Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Salt & Light In the Capitol

A passage that is often used to support a mandate for political activism by churches and believers is Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

As the interpretation goes, churches and believers are commanded to be salt and light. Hence, we are obliged to be involved in political activism in order to preserve and change our culture.

While there may be some application from these verses to encourage such involvement, a close look at the passage finds no reference to what could be considered political activism. These verses immediately follow what we commonly call The Beatitudes. These are the character qualities that demonstrate one is genuinely part of God’s kingdom; a believer; a follower of Jesus Christ. They form part of the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus describes how those qualities work themselves out in various areas of daily life. Jesus makes a statement: believers are the salt of the earth. Christians are the light of the world. Our salt has the most influence and our light shines the brightest when we live holy lives described in the Sermon on the Mount and boldly proclaim the message of the gospel.

Phil Johnson states it this way:

“We ought to vote. We ought to be good citizens in every way. And we should cast our votes conscientiously and with discernment. But if your hope for the future of our society rests in the democratic process, or if you think the fortunes of the church rise or fall according to which party is in power, you need to look again at how the people of God have historically made their influence felt in society. You’ll discover that those times when the church has grown the most and when revival has spread furthest are times when believers have been most concerned about personal holiness and evangelism. The church’s real influence comes from the power of the gospel and the testimony of changed lives.”
“Jesus is simply describing the natural, God–ordained process by which all of society is blessed and influenced by the presence of faithful believers who serve as salt and light in a corrupt and sin-darkened society. Personal holiness, not political dominion, is what causes men to glorify our Father who is in heaven”.

Phil Johnson, Let Your Light So Shine: Examining the American Christian Approach to
Politics. Found in Fool's Gold, pg 146

Capitol Commission seeks to be salt and light in the Capitol.

  • We seek to have a godly testimony before our leaders and serve them.

  • We seek to boldly proclaim the gospel and the Word of God before our legislators, elected officials, lobbyists, and others serving in the capitol community.

  • We seek to encourage churches and individual believers to be involved in serving, encouraging, and seeking to share the gospel with their leaders at the state and local levels.

You can also find an MP3 of Phil Johnson’s excellent message on this passage here.

No comments: