Last Sunday I used a few props to try to make the point that Jesus taught us, as his followers, to be like “salt” – a contrast to the norms and expectations of society or culture at large. Watching our evolving (devolving?) political life being played out in various news as well as social media, I can’t help thinking back to my early years as a priest in the 70’s when I was taught that, as a church, the message of the gospel had to be more “relevant.” This was a term which in effect meant that antiquated ways and traditional messages needed to be updated so that the message of Jesus would be heard by and be more at ease with contemporary culture.
But “being heard” does not equal “agreeing with,” and that is the point of being “salt of the earth” or “light of the world.” You have a couple of well used “church talk” metaphors which we often forget were part of the substance of the ongoing teachings of our incarnate God. Salt gives flavor. Salt changes the taste. Salt brings healing and purity. Salt is antiseptic as well as spice.
I don’t believe we as Christians are ever supposed to be totally comfortable with our culture, society, political systems – or any of the powers of this world (to use another church phrase). We are supposed to be different, better, almost a subversive force within “real life.” When church and state are too much in sync, maybe that is not always a good sign. Maybe we are supposed to be at odds with society’s usual expectations because the way of Jesus is not always the way of our political or business or social leaders – no matter which “side of the aisle” they reign from. If you are not comfortable, as a Christian, with your place in society, maybe that is exactly where the Lord needs and wants you to be!