Sunday, January 23, 2005

Salt, Light, and Aim

I was listening to my pastor drone on today in another sermon suited for first-graders. He was going on about Christians being the Salt of the world, and being a City on a Hill. This sermon followed an earlier one on the Beatitudes, and it had its virtues. I don’t mean to insult the good Reverend, he covered the basics, which is always wise every so often, and standard routine for any pastor these days; we Christians are quick to forget the basics in too many cases. But I couldn’t help but wonder, if some of the problems Christians are having in dealing with other faiths and the secularists and atheists, hasn’t come about precisely because we’re always encouraged to be ‘salt and light’, without any real focus and direction on how we go about it.

Maybe I shouldn’t call the sermon suited for first-graders, but I heard so many things today that I have heard before, without so many things that could have been used to take the lesson to the next level. While it’s true, as the Reverend mentioned, that sale was considered as valuable as money, and was used to not only enhance the flavor of food, but also to preserve it against spoilage, it is also true that too much salt completely spoils the meal, and can make people violently ill. In fact, over the course of a lifetime, too much sale can cause heart trouble. Salt can be good or bad.

Same thing about light. Jesus’ phrase about a ‘city on a hill’ is certanly pretty and poetic; President Reagan used that phrase to good effect. And it’s really hard to imagine life as we know it, without light whenever we need it. But anyone who’s ever had to drive with someone using their bright headlights coming the other way knows, something that can be too much. A house in Virginia last year was ordered by a Federal judge to turn off his Christmas lights, not because of religious issues, but because the lights were so numerous and bright, that the FAA had filed a complaint that the house lights were diverting commercial air traffic. There is such a thing, as too much of a good thing, and the need for focus and direction is very real.

Why am I making a big deal about this? Because of James Dobson’s controversy this past week. Dobson was making the very valid point, that educators should not be promoting any sort of sexual ethics to elementary school kids, nor allowing advocacy groups to promote their agenda with the school’s support. But Dobson failed to realize that his own advocacy would be an issue if he allowed it to be seen that way, which is what happened. Too much salt, Dr.Dobson.

Christians, especially evangelical Christians, need to consider their method, and especially their focus. Just my thought for the day.

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