Many Christians in China today are seeking to be salt and light in their communities and in society. But what does that look like? In the translated article below, originally posted on the mainland site Christian Times, the author summarizes a talk given by a pastor in Henan Province on the topic of being salt and light.
A talk given by a pastor in Henan:
How can a Christian be light and salt to influence society?
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in the heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
From this passage, we can see that Christians should be active in daily life in the secular world, and should live as salt and light to influence people around them in a positive way. When people see the good deeds of a Christian they will give the honor to God.
The current situation, however, is that many Christians who have been called to serve in the church, having been influenced by the world, then go back into the secular world. The temptation is too strong for them. This leads to the dilemma of “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” As long as this difficult situation continues, influencing society is just out of the question.
Pastor Fan, who is from a church in Henan, thinks that a Christian should first overcome himself and the world before trying to change society. On the one hand, the rapid pace of change in society today is a big challenge for Christians. “The cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does” are the three things against God. They have been constantly affecting churches and the growth of Christians. On the other hand, Christians who have been well protected in a church will be grabbed by the world quickly after leaving the church if they do not constantly walk in faith and stay closely connected to Jesus.
So how can a Christian have victory over himself and the world?
I. Churches should give people guidance and teaching on this subject and encourage them to pray together.
Brothers and sisters each have difficulties of their own. Churches should show more concern for their everyday life, work, and study. This is a problem in many churches today. They cannot provide members with the personal attention they need, and they seldom organize activities for believers to get together to communicate with each other and encourage one other.
Faith is not just about attending Sunday worship. A church should help its members put their faith into practice. Currently many Christians with secular jobs never visit an orphanage or a nursing home. One reason is that they do not have time. But even if they have time during the holidays, they would rather spend their time travelling, sightseeing or on other forms of entertainment. The most important reason is that the church does not have a burden for this and neither do the individual believers.
II. A Christian should practice three things in order to grow.
Realize God’s love. A Christian may know all the theology and have listened to a lot of preaching, but it’s difficult to put into practice. Though one may engage in self-examination and may pray and say to the Lord, “I did not do well in this,” or, “I did badly in that,” nevertheless they will go back to doing what they feel like and return to the world. The key reason is that their love for the Lord is shallow. They believe, but they only stay at the stage of “I have been saved and have been prepared to enter my eternal home.” But they have not entered into “the world the Lord loves deeply.” They still rely on the things their physical eyes can see, or they rely on their parents. When we truly realize the love of the Lord, we will make decisions by being committed to and submitting all to the Lord and walking according to His will.
Intentionally practicing one’s faith. In our modern age, with the rapid development of network science and technology, people can get information and resources without stepping out of their houses. Along with this convenience comes good and bad things, including many temptations. It’s very easy to be influenced without being cautious. Facing such a world, Christians cannot relax, even for a moment; but should be alert and make sure their spiritual lives do not become disconnected from their daily life. Reading the scriptures, listening to preaching, and praying are all vital. Making them an important part of our life will help to strengthen us and protect us against temptation.
Learn to surrender yourself. Without a spirit of self-surrender, you will not be willing to carry the cross and walk the Lord’s road. Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) If you have a heart of surrendering yourself, you will be willing to give up worldly things and focus on the Lord always.
When a Christian grows up with good character and actions, they will naturally influence the people around them by their good deeds and thus begin to affect society. When talking about “how a Christian can make changes to society,” Pastor Fan believes that Christians must first grow in their spiritual lives. Without this, it is impossible to have a Christ-like image.
In addition, a Christian must continue to live in the world. Some Christians set themselves apart from their former friends after becoming a believer. They feel that they are separated to be holy. But it is wrong to break off contact with unbelieving friends. Jesus prayed for his disciples before leaving the world, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) A Christian should live in the world and be among the people of the world, so that they can preach the gospel and influence them in a fresh way. When people see this they will give honor to God.
Original article: 河南一牧师谈：基督徒怎样才能作光作盐影响社会？(Christian Times)
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