You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost it’s 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. 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: 13 – 16
In looking at one’s faith and journey with God there is much for one to consider. We as individuals who are influenced by a wide and diversity of factors. Moreover our culture which is collectively made up by individuals is equally influenced by a large, diverse myriad of things. Some tings that influence us on our micro level and then collector influence our culture on a much larger macro scale can be one’s upbringing, childhood, family background and dynamics, economics, race, ethicenity, gender, and political views. Moreover often times these things are influenced by one’s own ideals, morals, principles, philosophies and beliefs which are often found or impacted by one’s faith and religion. These influential factors and components often times define us as individual and our identity. We individuals who are apart of our culture we each take our influential factors out into the world and our culture. Our culture is influenced by the collective influential factors of the group. In giving consideration to the places such influences have on us as individuals and on the collective culture there are a few questions that must be reflective upon. Where does spirituality and scripture fit into our culture? Where does our culture fit into Scripture and one’s spirituality? How do we as believers influence our culture and allow our culture to influence our own spirituality and journey of our faith.
These questions seem to be the crux and a large part of being a believer in this day and age in the world we live in. This issues and question of what place and influence of one’s culture a believer’s allow in his or her life and to what extent a believer will influence and have impact on his or her culture is at the core of one’s life and faith journey. For me I have debated this numerous times through out my own life and faith journey. I have come to different conclusions and understanding as I have journeyed forward in my life and faith. I have come to realize that this can be a most delicate and difficult balancing act for us as believers. It can be a constant battle and struggle to keep the balance of the scales of what and how we allow our culture to influence our life and to extent or to how we are able to be and influence and impact on our culture. These questions and considerations can be in the smallest to the largest ways and issues.
At times it seems that these issues and questions are most complicated. Some would say that we can have no part of this world and we most be totally separate to be able to set the example. Others would may argue and make the case no we have be in this world if we wish to influence it for how can we influence something if we are not in it. Some would argue middle ground and seek much balance. In seeking the balance some would look to the guidance and measure of cause not your brother to stumble in your choices and actions (I Cor. 8:13). Then some voices would express the idea of the potential slippery slope and let not oneself be unbalance and be weighed down on the side of the scale that culture is influenced to the point of you no longer have a revealing and useful influential salt to the world.
In considering the matters of one’s faith one may ask how do I go about achieving this balanced scale between being in the world and not of the world. How do I influence my culture but yet not be swept away by the ways and influence of my culture. These are most relevant and valid considerations and questions worth reflecting upon and answering. I’m not an all knowing, don’t have all the answers or not perfect there are things in my life that I’m quite sure some would say is to much of the world influence in me. I can only present my observations and reflections upon the matters in which I present in this book. I can only speak for myself. That being said in my own life and faith journey this is the conclusion I have come to for me and my life.
For me there are several answers to these questions. First I think in all things, but revenant to this specifically, we can look to Jesus and His ultimate example. He was in this world on earth for 33 years but at no time or point was of or from this world. I and we can gain much from that in all things and matters of life and our faith journey. Another part of the answer for is that yes we are given this black and white command of being in this world but not of this world meaning we are to always point to others to God and, Jesus and the love and salvation of Jesus. However there is much gray in how we each go about that. When I say gray I do not mean to be wavering in one’s beliefs or to comprise on truth and God’s word. What I do mean by the gray in this black and white of this command is that we are all unique, special and different individuals and so how we are able to be salt, light and have influence on our culture is going to be unique and different from persons to to person either because of one’s gifts, talents and beliefs.
The other part of this is one must know his or hew own limits and stumbling blocks. If you know you have a certain area that is not good, healthy, positive or brings towards God then you may have to say this tipping the scale to the more worldly. What this is for one believer will not be the same for the another and vice versa. Then again what one believer can do and is comfortable with that cause him or her to stumble and not hinder his or her ability to be light and salt and have influence will equally not be the same form one to another. I know personally for me there have been a few things areas that I have changed my position on in my life and faith journey.
These are the areas of grayness, subjectivity and relatively that I meant that follows with in the common of being in the world but not of the world and of the question of are we influencing our culture or is our culture influencing us as believers. We must know ourselves, our limits, our own stumbling blocks and hinderances. As long as we are holding to the bottom lines and core components of our faith of John 3:16, the Christian Creed, the greatest and ten commands, things that are black and white with no room to debate then the rest is up to our own personal discernision and understanding of God and the influence of His word on our lives and journey of faith. For me these are the answers to these questions of being in the world but not of the world and to determine if i’m having impact on my culture or if our culture is influencing me.
I look to these things to help me measure and wight my life, the influence of the world or me on the world and it’s place it has in my life and my journey of faith and how the scales of these matters are tipping in my life. May I always be mindful and watchful for the how the scales are tipping in my life and faith journey. May I always seek and strive to keep the right balance between being in this world and not of this world in my own life and my faith journey. May I always seek to be salt and light in this world and have influence on my culture. May we as believers all seek and strive to be the light and salt and have much influence on our culture through what we believe in Scripture and because of our spirituality and faith and that we point our culture and world to the sources of our salt and light God and Jesus Christ are Lord and Savior.