Salt and Light
I think God’s trying to tell me something, but I can’t figure out what it is.
On Sunday, before I went to church, along with reading more from Job, I also read Matthew 5.13-20, which happens to be the “you are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world” bit. Then I read a chapter of a book called Adventures in Missing the Point (Tony Campolo and Brian MacLaren) which happened to focus on the same passage. Then I got to church and the sermon was pretty much about the same thing. It was about not feeling quite at home here—in this world. I mean, who does, really, because we’re kind of not, but the focus was about how, when we’re journeying toward Jesus, we’re just not Home yet. To top it off, we sang this Keith Green song, one of the verses of which goes,
Separate me from this world, Lord.
Sanctify my life for You.
Daily change me to Your image;
Help me bear good fruit.
Given the rest of what I’ve been reading and hearing lately, I really don’t think this “separation” means anything like shutting myself up in a convent. Like MacLaren writes in that book I just mentioned, Christians are supposed to be “like salt in the meat, not just meat; like light in the darkness, not just more darkness.” It probably doesn’t sound very nice or tolerant to imply that everybody else is meat (whatever that means) or darkness, but at least probably most of us can agree that this world is a pretty dark place, when it comes right down to it. And if Jesus told His followers to be light in that darkness, and if I claim to be one of those followers, then I’d better be doing my best to shine.
Fortunately, a major plus to being a Christian is that the Holy Spirit can help me with that. (On days when I’m feeling more like Job, I might say, cynically, “the Holy Spirit is supposed to help me with that, but whether He does or not is a different story.” This is something I may rant about later. Right now I feel that if the Holy Spirit’s influence is not particularly evident in my life, it’s probably my own fault.) Based on previous experience, I’d say that when I hear or read the same Bible passage more than once, by “accident,” from multiple sources, on the same day, said Holy Spirit is probably trying to get a message through.
This is both exciting and terrifying. I mean, it’s pretty astoundingly fantastic that God would want to communicate with any one person on a personal level; I think lifelong contact with Christian doctrine sometimes makes me take that concept for granted, when really it couldn’t be more amazing. And I don’t know; there’s some sort of feeling of relief I get, I guess, when I have an intimation that God’s going to give me another “character-lift.” On the other hand, like all surgeries, such things are often painful. Not to mention that I am (to abruptly shift metaphors) what I like to call a slow learner. And stubborn. And comfortable. And prone to argue. If God’s about to get me to shine a little brighter, that’s cool and everything, but what’s it going to cost me?
Besides which, I still have no idea what it means. Of course I want to shine. But I’ve always wanted to. Sometimes I thought I was doing it. If I’m supposed to do something different, or differently, I don’t yet have an intimation of what that is. So I’m waiting, nervous and with anticipation, to see what’s going to happen next. I just thought you might want to, too.