Opinions on faith and life

The Ins and Outs of Christianity

2008-10-15

Sometimes I think we all forget why we’re here. I was thinking about the sayings of Jesus today and this one stood out:

“None of you lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead you put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light... See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” (Luke 11:33-36)
But a hermit or monk does pretty much the equivalent of hiding a light under a bowl. They may have light within, but no one else benefits from it. And many who would agree with that are hiding their light nonetheless. They seem almost embarrassed to say the name of Jesus or to stand up for the gospel when other religions are aggressively parading themselves. We sometimes act like lepers, ashamed of our faith and afraid it might infect others, while people of other religions have no such inhibitions.

Everything we read in the New Testament tells us that both the inner life and outward testimony are of the utmost importance in a believer’s life. Some emphasize one to the neglect of the other. But our testimony must not be timid or ashamed! How would your best friend feel if you tried to act like you didn’t know them when other friends of yours come around? In the same way, think of how Jesus must feel when we take all the “salt” out of our speech when we’re out in the world or among our unsaved friends. We are more worried about offending them than we are about offending Jesus!

We live in a world that becomes less tolerant of us by the day, all while demanding we tolerate them and never offend them. I think it’s time for us to be most intolerant of those who would silence us and tell us we should put our lamps back under bowls. We are here to permeate the culture and make it “salty”, not to become bland and dark so we fit in. The gospel is offensive; there’s no way around it. If our “salt” is bland and our “light” is dark, who will ever hear the gospel? How can we say “New and improved!” when we taste exactly like the other brand?

...Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Cor. 2:14-16 NLT)
So give yourselves a “taste test”: are you “new and improved”?

4 Comments

Rachel

Wow - you write very powerfully on salt and light - this really made me think. I love Jesus and want to honour him, but only last week when someone was asking me about my direction (I’m at theological college), I said, well, that’s up to ’the big guy’. I did this so that I didn’t come over as someone wanting to convert everyone around me and yet that is what we are called to do - much food for thought here, esp. about us choosing to offend Jesus over offending others - I’m guilty of this and I think you have made me realise it.

I like your blog and will follow your thoughts. God bless Rachel at Re vis.e re form

Greg anderson

Paula,

Religion is what has given Christianity a bum rap. But how do we separate Jesus from rote religion? The Jesus of the Bible is one way I think. Just the simple good news of believing on him and his resurrection, and then letting the little piece of himself he implants in us do its work of change.

How then does Jesus get all tangled up in a whole truck-load of other stuff "ya gotta" do? Do we beat the world over the head with a KJV or simply give a reason for the hope (Jesus) implanted in our hearts?

Here again, I think it’s a question of balance between "Jihad", to cite one extreme -- and totally passive witness on the other.

I am convinced that many opportunities arise in a believer’s life in which he or she can stand up and be counted among those who confess him before men.

We fail too, just like Peter did when he cussed and swore that he didn’t know him.

In conclusion, I believe there is one true religion and it is described in the book of James. I also believe that it must go hand in hand with any oral confessions of Jesus as Lord.

Paula Fether

You got it, Greg. Religion vs. relationship. Religion controls and dictates, while relationship wants to please the other.

Yes, we all falter at times, but for too many it’s mostly faltering and rarely speaking up. If people are not ashamed of Jesus we would expect them to only miss a few opportunities. But what I’ve seen for many years are a lot of people who, for example, will refer to God as "the man upstairs" and Jesus as "the man from Galilee".

I think it comes partly from a reaction to the fact that unbelievers typically accuse us of ramming our beliefs down their throat even if we only casually mention Christian terms. And some believers do that. But surely there is an ideal middle ground where we are neither ashamed nor obnoxious. :-)

Paula Fether

Hi Rachel, and welcome! Thank you for your kind words. I can’t pronounce your blog name but I’ll be sure to pay you a visit. :-)