“What is the world coming to?” was an often-used phrase of my mother’s. She was a teacher on the south side of Atlanta, GA and I remember her saying that when describing what some of her students did that day or what their parents said. It was really just a catch-all phrase describing a frustration, surprise, fear or anxiety about the condition of our society. “People actin’ the fool” is a popular one with my wife. I promise she is normally well-spoken; it’s just those special times of incredulity over people’s behavior that bring out the slang in her. I bet there’s a good chance you uttered or thought something similar over the last few weeks. Mass murders, ambushed police officers and serious concerns over authorities abusing their power (from police officers to presidential candidates) have all shaken our nation.
In reading articles on the recent events, I came across this from conservative Erick Erickson:
We have reached a moment in this country where most everyone lacks seriousness and the one institution that should fill the void, the church, is on the defensive in some cases and in others has descended as much into the culture of left and right as the secularists have.
Unfortunately, to a certain extent, I think he’s right. Before Christians consider the state of the Union we ought to consider the state of the church. Consider Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
The Gospel of Luke also quotes Christ saying something similar, that time in the context of the cost of discipleship and what he expects of us as his followers. (Luke 13:25)
My understanding of this admonishment is that Christians are expected to affect the world. We are to set forth the Gospel in word and deed to the entire world. We are to do this individually and corporately as the church. That doesn’t mean the world will love us or even listen to us. Nevertheless, we are commanded to do it. If we don’t live out the Gospel, we are USELESS.
Christ followed his command for us to stay salty with this:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a 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 your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
The Church is the only institution that has the answer for the world’s problems. Political parties, government, popular culture, media, etc., do not have the answer. Christ did not charge a task force with being salt and light to the world. He charged us, the church.
The Anglican Communion is losing its saltiness. At least it is in the West. The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, The Church of England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and more are quickly abandoning the gospel of Jesus Christ. The more the false gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity swallows these provinces the less salty they become. Pray for those “salty” Christians that remain in those provinces and that their ministry would be effective.
In the U.S. and Canada, we thankfully have the Anglican Church in North America but let’s not be complacent or lazy. If you’re pained by what’s going on in this country, do something about it. Start by examining your own life and walk with Christ. Then examine your congregation’s life. Are you living out the Gospel? If your congregation closed its doors and disbanded, would the community notice? If you feel convicted, you’re not alone. I am.
There are many worthwhile projects and groups we can devote ourselves to that could help the situation. Politics, media, civic organizations and others have an impact and can do good. But remember that first and foremost, it’s the church and individual Christians that are charged with being the salt and light in this world. If we aren’t that, then we’re useless.
Robert Lundy is Director of Communications for the American Anglican Council.