Saturday, September 27, 2014

John R.W. Stott on Being Salt and Light

The world is evidently a dark place, with little or no light of its own, since an external source of light is needed to illumine it. True, it is "always talking about its enlightenment," but much of its boasted light is in reality darkness. The world also manifests a constantly tendency to deteriorate. The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that Christians can make it less insipid ("The thought of making the world palatable to God is quite impossible"), but that it is putrefying. It cannot stop itself from going bad. Only salt introduced from outside can do this. The church, on the other hand, is set in the world with a double role, as salt to arrest--or at least to hinder--the process of social decay, and as light to dispel the darkness.
What message do we have, then, for such people who feel themselves strangled by 'the system', crushed by the machine of modern technocracy, overwhelmed by political, social and economic forces which control them and over which they have no control? They feel themselves victims of a situation they are powerless to change. What can they do? It is in the soil of this frustration that revolutionaries are being bred, dedicated to the violent overthrow of the system. It is from the very same soil that revolutionaries of Jesus can arise, equally dedicated activists--even more so--but committed rather to spread his revolution of love, joy and peace. And this peaceful revolution is more radical than any programme of violence, both because its standards are incorruptible and because it changes people as well as structures. Have we lost our confidence? Then listen to Luther: "With his single word I can be more defiant and more boastful than they with all their power, swords and guns."
John R.W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (InterVarsity Press, 1978), pgs. 58-59, 64.

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