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Salty and Bright


In much of evangelicalism, especially in Canada, there has been a lack of robust cultural engagement. Or to put it another way, the churches have been on the retreat for the last half a century of so; retreating to build isolated Christian communities. Instead of speaking into the issues of the day, many have opted to simply focus on matters of individual spirituality or personal piety. Any outreach into the world is simply as a rescue foray to snatch branches from the burning. And as Jude 1:23 teaches us, that is not a bad thing, in fact it is good to save others by snatching them out of the fire. But is that all we do? Is that all it means to be salt and light in this world? To be occasional evangelists?

If you have been at Redeemer for a while, you may have noticed something different from the traditional Canadian evangelical church. Well, let's be honest, you may have found a few somethings! But what I am getting at here is our willingness to speak boldly into the cultural issues of our day. We make it our aim to lean into the culture of our day and speak the Word of God into it. This is why we haven't been hesitant to speak into many issues even this last year. Whether it was the passing of Bill C-4, or the unjust vaccine mandates that have harmed so many people this last year, or the broader issues of the government's intrusion into the jurisdiction of the church. We made a stand on the Lordship of Christ over His church, and resisted all attempts to shut down our preaching and our worship. We could go on and talk about cultural issues like abortion, euthanasia, drug-addiction, homelessness, divorce, promiscuity, modesty, pornography and many more things like these. And by God's grace we will continue to address these issues.

But at this point some would say, "you are being too political, pastor!". "Stay in your lane!", they say. But to this I would argue that the lane of the church touches everything. The gospel of Christ's Kingdom branches out into every area of life. I know that I shared this quote from Abraham Kuyper recently, but it bears repeating. Kuyper famously said, "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!" The Lord Jesus cares about the dishes, the car maintenance, the discipline of children, all of the little things. There is nothing so small that God doesn't care about it. But neither should we think that there are areas of life too big and distant for our Lord to care about. The Lord cares about economics, laws and politics, culture and social trends. The Lord will judge every instance of corruption, coercion, immorality, and violence. And because the Lord cares about these things, so should we.

The church is called to be God's prophetic witness in this world. We are not just some niche religious group, that is supposed to mind our own business. The whole world is our business. Why? Because Jesus told us to disciple the nations! We seek to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), which is our marching orders to engage this world with the gospel. We have been charged with discipleship, baptism, and the teaching of all things commanded. Notice that we are to teach the nations the whole counsel of God's Word. We bring truth to the conversation. We bring the truth that the world needs. In fact, the Bible says the church is the "pillar and buttress of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). This ought to give us boldness in how we engage. We have the answers. God has spoken. We have His Word, we have His gospel, and we have been commissioned to go and tell the world.

We are the church under the authority of the Lord Christ. And we therefore have a delegated authority to speak into this world. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors for Christ. God makes his appeal to the world through us, as we speak. The transformation of the world starts with the changed hearts and minds of people – but that will inevitably change the culture as well. And that is because God cares about every aspect of our lives. Remember, every square inch! Or as the apostle Paul wrote, "so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The salt has a way of influencing things, and the light has a way of illuminating the dark (Matthew 5:13-16).

So, we do not engage politically in a merely political way – pushing our worldly opinions. No, but we do engage politically, culturally, socially, and in a distinctly Christian way. We engage with the authority of Christ – teaching all to obey His Word, shining the light of truth, preserving and influencing for good in the world as salt, supporting the truth and standing for the truth.

This leads us to do more than preach narrowly on conversion and heaven – it leads us to proclaim the whole counsel of God into the culture (Acts 20:27). This leads us to boldly proclaim the Kingdom of God in this world. It takes faith to do this. Most Christians, unfortunately, don't believe in a project this big. And because they don't believe, they don't engage.

Just think of this last week's events with the fall of Roe v. Wade. And wasn't that a glorious and stunning piece of news from south of the border? But just consider how so many Christians talked about Roe v. Wade for decades. They spoke of it as something that would never change, never to be reversed. They viewed the world as inevitably on a downward trend, with the steady and unchanging progress of a rotting corpse. They had given up. They didn't believe it could change. And yet, here we are today. Just look at the riots and rage – the culture of death has hit a setback; and we are winning. It is possible by prayer and persistent cultural engagement to change the world. This is why we are still here on earth as Christians.

The more we live by faith, with hope for what Christ will yet do – the more we will seek to engage. We will work because we believe that God is working here. It is when we don't live by faith, when we live by our own resources, our own count of what we can do, that is when we disengage, retreat and ultimately accept defeat.

To sum it up, I am advocating for a hopeful, engaged, joyful and bold approach to culture. Let us engage. Let us speak the truth. Let us disciple the nations. Let us go into the world as real believers, knowing that what we have to give is exactly what the world needs, even if they don't know it yet. And may God have mercy on our land, taking our prayers and our efforts and doing with them what only he can do – the impossible. 

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Sunday, 19 May 2024