Summary: We’ve tried all sorts of ways of trying to impact our culture. What does Jesus have to say about the way to make a difference in society?
How Do We Influence Our Society? It’s not through programs. It’s not through politics. It’s not through buildings. It’s not through books. It’s not through ideas.
- Only focus on the negative ideas here.
- “If our church could get more programs going, we could make a huge difference.”
- “Our church is going downhill – we need to start a new program.”
- “We want to impact our community. What program can we begin?”
- Within the church, we inevitably push for more programs.
- In fact, we often define a “successful” church as one with a ton of activities on the calendar.
- We’ve put a lot of effort into the “culture war” over the last three decades. The results: not very impressive.
- We build our new Family Life Centers and massive sanctuaries, presuming (and I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard quote this as though it’s straight from the Bible) “If you build it, they will come.”
- We have an entire Christian publishing industry churning out countless new titles every year.
- If we could just come up with brilliant new strategies or concepts or thoughts, maybe we could come up with something that could change everything.
- Truth is, we don’t need a new idea – we just need to go back to the old idea that Jesus puts before us here.
How Do We Do It? The changed lives that come from living the Beatitudes don’t only leave us blessed – they also keep our world from becoming darker and more rotten.
- Matthew 5:13, 14 – “salt” and “light.”
- In vv. 3-12, Jesus repeats again and again that living this way will leave us feeling “blessed.” As we talked about last week, this is an invitation from Christ.
- But the impact is not just on us – it’s also on those around us.
- We are light so that the world around us doesn’t become darker.
- We are salt so that the world around us doesn’t become more rotten.
- There is a lie today that our faith should be personal, private, and hidden. Aside from the fact that it’s not true, it’s also impossible if you’re living out the changed life of the Beatitudes.
- A little more on those two ideas.
- The need:
- Our world, left to itself, naturally grows more rotten.
- This is not a particularly big surprise, given our sin nature.
- What salt does:
1. It provides flavor.
2. It stings sometimes.
3. It creates thirst.
4. It is a preservative.
- I think this is the most crucial of the distinctives.
- In Jesus’ day, salt was rubbed into meat in order to keep it from going bad. There were no refrigerators back then.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 speaks of a time in the future when that preserving influence will be removed and things will go south quickly.
- From John Hamby:
Christianity has in fact had a profound positive effect on the world. The most dramatic impact of Christianity on the world is that it has attached new value to human life. Prior to Christianity infanticide, and abandonment of children was a common practice. Hospitals as we now know them began through influence of Christianity. The Red Cross was started by an evangelical Christian. Almost every one of the first 123 colleges and universities in the United States has Christian origins, founded by Christians for Christian purposes. The same could be said of orphanages, adoption agencies, humane treatment of the insane, the list goes on and on of dramatic impact of Christianity in our world. [D. James Kennedy. “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1994) pp. 3- 4]
Christian’s continue to have a positive benefit on our world. As a moral antiseptic, Christians keep the corruption of society at bay by opposing moral decay by their lives and their words.
But there is an horrifying new trend today. George Barna’s, the church statistician, says that research shows that, “… the average Christian in the average church is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. The fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live, is missing. When our teens we claim to be saved, get pregnant and do drugs at the same rate as the general teenage population - when the marriages of Christians end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society - when Christians cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians - something is horribly wrong.”
- How it works:
1. It works secretly.