“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 a bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, 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 God.”
I have a friend who is an observer of the world, and when you begin a conversation with him you never know where it will go or how it will end. Recently he asked me why the world needs the Presbyterian Church.
I don’t know that anyone ever asked me that before. I offered up a few thoughts, but what I was really interested to hear was his thoughts on the matter and I wasn’t disappointed. He told me, “I have a theory. It seems to me the world is filled with people of every variety and in that mix there are people all across the spectrum when it comes to everything, including what they believe. Some folks believe others do not, and lots are some place in between.” He went on, “I believe the Presbyterian Church is well suited for that kind of world because at its heart it is thoughtful and open. Presbyterian’s gift to the world is an openness to diverse ways of thinking and believing; that in its essence there is a spirit that values the mind, critical thought, education, and conversation.”
I believe there is a great amount of truth in what he says and it helps me understand and claim our uniqueness; our light, our salt. We are a church not simply with a view or opinion, no, we are a church with a hundred views and our gift is our ability to share, listen, learn and grow together.
As Presbyterians, we have deep roots that have been made strong by generations of educators and learners alike. Did you know our denomination had a fundamental role in the establishment of public education? Are you aware that the reason Presbyterians came to New Mexico in the first place was to build schools and hospitals? Churches came later as the missionaries themselves felt the need to worship.
My friend hit the nail on the head. The light we have to offer is a light of openness to diversity of thought, perspective, and person. But I think we have not let that light shine as brightly as we might. Perhaps we have felt uneasy that we don’t always speak with a unified voice on issues of faith and culture. Even as we have stepped into the decision to postpone our in-person activities there have been diverse opinions about our action. As we have tried to find our way in this new season of self-isolation we have had differing reactions to what we should be doing. And I expect nothing less. We are dynamic. We aren’t placid. We aren’t boring.
I know I can find myself looking with a touch of envy at church cultures that are spawning mega-churches. I have spent too much time wondering what we can do to be like them. But the truth is I am very satisfied being who we are. Which is not to say we should settle in and be satisfied. What I mean is I like the flavor of our salt and am certain the world needs it.
It is going to be interesting to see what happens next as we move through this time and on. I am certain things won’t be the same, even as we will be changed. Regardless, I trust we will find our way to shine our light and share our salt because that is the way we follow Christ.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Thanks be to God!