Summary: Sermon 23 in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
The Christian and the Social Order (BFM #23)
A pig, by any other name, still smells just as bad
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
By: Ken McKinley
How many of you have ever listened to Dr. James Dobson? Or watched Dr. D. James Kennedy on TV? Or maybe you’ve read some of Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. The president of THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s blogs? If you do, or if you have done any of these things, then you’ve heard Christian leaders engage in a criticism of the government in the public square.
Now today we are on Article 15 of the BFM, and basically Article 15 was written in the response to this question, and here’s the question, “What role should we as Christians play in society, and do we have a responsibility to stand for what we believe, even if it’s at odds with others in society.”
So let’s look at Article of 15 and see the SBC’s answer to this question (Read Article 15).
Now our Scripture text comes from the Sermon on the Mount, and if you’ve been attending the evening services you’ve heard me say that the Sermon on the Mount is basically Jesus preaching on what it means to be a Christian. And last Sunday you heard me say that the Kingdom of God is inside you… its spiritual, rather than special, so to speak. And when Jesus preached this, it was radical. Everyone thought that the Kingdom was going to be physical, that the Messiah was going to come and deliver them from Rome and set on the literal, physical throne of David, and rule from Jerusalem. Several times we read of the crowds trying to make Jesus a king. Over and over again the Disciples asked if Jesus was going to “restore the kingdom at this time?” And people missed the point. Christianity isn’t about the external things; it’s about the internal things. Take care of the inside, and the outside will take care of itself.
Let’s look at what Jesus says here in Matthew 5:13 (Read). When Jesus says, “YOU” He’s talking about us. “You” there is plural, so He’s talking about those who would follow Him. Here in Oklahoma we would say it like this, “You all are the salt of the earth…” The word translated as “are” is the Greek “este” and it’s a verb that indicates “being” rather than “doing.” In other words, what we are determines what we do; and before we can “do” what we’ve been created to do, we have to “be” what Christ intends for us to be. That’s why Article 15 says, “Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.”
Now this is important, because it’s touching on a fundamental aspect that I think Christians have missed in the last 20 or 30 years (or maybe longer). And that is, we cannot change the culture unless we change human nature. And human nature can only be changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t change our culture and make it more moral by electing Christian politicians. We change it by doing the Great Commission. Programs cannot change individuals, unless the Gospel is presented. Religion cannot change an individual, at least not permanently, unless that religion includes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Psychology can’t do it, Sociology can’t do it, education cant do it. Only the Gospel can do it.
This is what Jesus is referring to later on in chapter 7 when He says, “Do not cast your pearls before the swine.” And I think we as Christians, for a long time now… what we’ve done in ever level of society, what we’ve done is try to dress up our hogs wile they were still hogs. And we dress them up and we parade them around and we say, “Look at our hogs! Look how we’ve changed them!” And things are ok, until the hog gets near a mud pit and wallows in that pit. And then we’re shocked that the hog is acting in a way that’s in accordance to its nature.
I hope ya’ll understand what I’m saying here.
Jesus says here that we are to be salt. Now I did an internet search on the uses of salt and I got 35 million results… literally it said, “There are over 35,500,000 results for your search.” I’m just going to talk about 6 of them.
What is salt good for?
Well for starters it seasons: In other words, we as Christians add flavor to life. We as followers of Christ should give life a wonderful flavor, and by doing so, we show those outside of Christ what the abundant life is all about. Secondly: Salt is a preservative. In ancient time especially; salt was used to keep things from rotting. That’s what we as Christians do. This world would be a whole lot worse if not for the influence of the truth, morality, and righteousness that Christians bring into it. Thirdly: Salt purifies and cleans. As Christians our lives are to bring an element of purity and cleansing to a corrupt world. And just as a side note, sometimes that cleaning can be painful. Fourthly: It heals. Through our witness as Christians we are to bring a hurting world to the Great Physician. 5th – Salt makes people thirsty. In the Beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” Through our lives and our witness we are supposed to be causing this thirst for righteousness. Lastly; salt was often used as a weed killer. That’s relevant because when Jesus says that when salt looses its flavor its good for nothing but to be thrown out and be trampled underfoot by men. The Romans were famous for building roads, and they would take salt and spread it on these roads to keep the weeds from growing there. Of course everyone walked on it. Are you about your Father’s business, or are you being walked on by the world?