“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under-foot.”
(Matthew 5:13 NRSV)
I had a friend who tended to have something of a standard response to those who irritated him. “That man is the salt of the earth” he would proclaim, before adding “and he doesn’t half rub it in your wounds!”
I have, today, read an article on the BBC website which speaks of the discomfort felt by atheists in some US communities.
I found the article to be full of sadness for a variety of reasons.
At one shockingly ironic level, you could take the word “atheist” in this article and replace it with the word “Christian” for many. There are places and occasions in my own country where it is not always wise to speak from an explicitly Christian perspective, and those who discover a faith can find themselves ridiculed by friends and even family. So it is sad that people of faith and atheists find themselves experiencing the same sense of dislocation from their peers or from their community for exactly the opposite reasons.
Regardless of what others may say or do, if Christians are so convinced of their rightness that people feel excluded or even persecuted, then we have failed and we should apologise.
God’s Kingdom is one of sacrificial love, and of justice. Any kingdom which seeks to gather one group together and excludes others, for no other reason than that they don’t share our world-view, is not a Kingdom I would wish to be a part of. It is the realm of the tyrant.
Jesus rebuked those who only cared for their own kind. He also reminded people of the commandment to love God and neighbour. He did not say “Love your neighbour if he believes in God.” He simply said, “Love your neighbour.”
The whole business of being “the salt of the earth” is that Christian lives should enhance the experience of those around them, not poison it. We must be mindful of history and, as frail human beings, seek to act out of love. That is especially true in our families, amongst our friends and in our wider communities.
In your love you have welcomed me into your Kingdom.
Help me to understand my call
to share that love with others,
not to prove my point
but in obedience to your gracious command.