Part two of the essay series I am writing for class. Join me on the journey of thinking about what is the church, and what is its mission in the world? Read part one here.
I believe we, the Church, are called to be something vital to the world. I believe this because we are given this mandate by the Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16:
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
The context of this verse is found towards the beginning of the famous Sermon on the Mount. Matthew took special care to record the words of Jesus in such detail. But the idea that we are salt and light means we are fundamental to life. We are required. The Harvard Medical School says of salt, “The human body can’t live without some sodium. It’s needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers (including those in the heart and blood vessels), and maintain a proper fluid balance.” When we go without salt we become less than what we are meant to be. Same for light in the world. Without the sun we are in darkness; we are cold. At no point, could we ever survive without one or the other. They Church, when it is acting at its highest capacity for love, should in fact be as integral as salt and light. We should be proud and unapologetically lighting the world for mission and reign of God as it is happening now in our world. As I sit here this weekend, I realize that the Church is failing to see the beautiful opportunities to love refugees and resident aliens. We are failing to be salt when we allow ourselves to be taken out of the spiritual nutrition of so many people who need us to step in and help. We are hiding under a bushel basket when we allow someone to speak for us that speaks not in love but in hate. “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1). At no point are we called to neglect or abandon those who need us. The Church is only as valuable as we are integral to the world and the meeting the world’s needs. We must be the salt and the light.