Monday, January 23, 2017

Salt and Light // A Post on Faith

So, the election is now officially over - we have a new president. Can we all just take a shower now and cleanse ourselves from all that was unholy about the last 12 months?

I mean, really, y'all.

Can I share a secret with you though?

No matter who is president, Jesus is still on His throne.

We are all going to be okay. We might be begging Jesus to come back soon enough - if we aren't already - but we can also remind ourselves that this will never be our home.

It seems to me, that over the course of the last year, a lot of areas have become gray for the Christian. I'm not sure why that is - maybe because there is so much injustice in the world, so much hate, so much deep (and valid) dissatisfaction with our leaders. But also over the course of the last year, I have been completely convicted that  biblical truth is Truth, no matter which way I slice it. It is uncomfortable, it is unpopular, it is controversial - but God's Word, in our house, will always be the standard. No watering it down, no making it fit my fleshly answers, no fluffing it up. It just is.

There was a quote from Beth Moore making it's way around Instagram and Facebook last week from Passion :: "You will watch a generation of Christians - OF CHRISTIANS - set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil's schemes in your generation. Sacrifice Truth for Love's sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both Truth AND love?"

It got me to thinking... we have somehow made this an issue of Truth vs. Love. When really it is supposed to be Truth IN Love. Not either or. Not one above the other. The Holy Spirit living in us enables to have both in all areas. 

"Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:15, 16)

Some translations say the whole truth here. The idea was that a mature believer is not supposed to leave anything out when sharing about Jesus and what is required to walk in faith with him. Not the good stuff - Jesus loves EVERYONE - but not the bad stuff either, like how can we knowingly live in sin while trying to also live in fellowship with him?

This includes the hard issues, the ones that we might not understand God's reasoning, the ones that we don't necessarily want to agree with. No matter how hard the issue, the question will always remains: do I believe that the Bible is Truth or do I not?

It's not a matter of which translation we use, it's a matter of Who is translating. Is it the Holy Spirit or is it our flesh? Are we viewing scripture through Jesus's eyes or are we allowing our culture to influence how we read it? Are we coming to scripture open or are we already convinced which way we want to believe and search for chosen verses to back us up?

If I hold my Truth to myself - what good is it? Jesus told us to be salt and light. What good is the salt if we aren't salting anything?

My word for the year is Love. I want to be love. I want to love others well. My neighbors, my friends, my family, those I agree with, those I don't. Those who look like me and those who don't. Those who hold my convictions and those who don't. This is at the core of my heart this year.

But I will not - I cannot - forsake Truth for love.

There will be differing opinions than mine. But I can choose to overlook differences and focus on similarities. I can choose to put down my sword and extend a helping hand, a compassionate ear, a warm meal to anyone who needs it. I can open my home to those who share different opinions and convictions than me. I cannot, however, act like my convictions do not exist - or worse yet - convince myself that society is changing and thereby voiding the Truth of the scripture that I read every morning.

Is this hard?


Is this impossible?


I think Jennie Allen described the paradox of this balance so eloquently :: "This isn’t easy. Most of God’s callings on my life, actually require God in my life. He didn’t build us to hold all the tensions and live them out perfectly. I want to say this clearly: Friends, in some way we all are getting this wrong. We’re getting this wrong, because we aren’t Jesus. But we do have Jesus. We have this model of a man so radically willing to lay His life down for others, He did so. He walked with all types of people, in grace and truth, and used less words than we do. And we have His Word and His Spirit in us to help us do the same."

Y'all - as believers we MUST strive for this balance. We have to. If we strive for love over truth, we are at risk of losing any resemblance of Biblical Truth. If we instead tend to strive for Truth instead of love, we are then at risk for passing down hate and legalism. 

"Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16, The Message

Jesus called us to be the salt so people will be able to taste godliness. Salt in a salt box does nothing. Just the right amount of salt on roasted vegetables brings out flavor that otherwise wouldn't be there. Potatoes without salt? Bland. Potatoes with salt (and butter and cheese and sour cream)? Perfection. We are not to hide ourselves, or our message. We are called to get out there, be the light of the world and SHINE.

What is perfect about this passage is that it tells us how we can shine.

Keep an open house.

Be generous with our lives.

Open up to others - and that will open people's hearts with God.

Don't confuse love with acceptance of sin. But don't confuse Truth with pointing out all that is wrong with someone's life either.

Like Jennie said, we WILL get this wrong. I do. Every. single. day. Despite any and all efforts I make. I err on one side or the other. But the point is to make an attempt. 

Let's all make an attempt to understand all different kinds of people. To stop judging and find a way - even a small way - to love people wherever they are. To hold onto our Truth but still seek to build relationships. To stand our ground but go to others who are hurting. To look for lonely people and instead of telling them how they're doing it all wrong, build them up. 

If we all seek the balance of Truth in Love, our whole nation will be better off, and as a body of believers, we will be able to make His Name known. Leave encouraged today, friends. We can strive to do it better together.

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