In a brief essay entitled Thoughts on Government written during the early spring of 1776, John Adams articulated the central points of his philosophy of government. It was his firm belief that history had presented him and the other colonists with an unmatched opportunity to form their own governments as free and independent states… “You and I, my dear friend, have been sent into life at a time when the greatest lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live. How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government, more than of air, soil, or climate, for themselves or their children!
Our Founders understood that Proverbs 29:2 has a significance for us that it doesn’t have in many other nations around the world. It says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Though we did not ask to be born in America; we did not ask to be given a government of which we are the stewards; nevertheless, God has given it to us, and He will call us to account for our stewardship of this important trust. We are called to be salt and light and that calling has never been of more importance as it is this very moment!
The comparison between darkness and light fills the pages of scripture. Listen to one of my favorite passages on the subject from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, sheds even more light. (No pun intended here.) “You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So, no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So, watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” And it was Jesus who not only said that we are the salt of the earth, but he describes Christians as the light of the world. The dictionary defines light as a “source of illumination.”
We are called to be light because light dispels darkness revealing everything in its path. Have you ever walked into a darkened room and not known what was there? Then, suddenly, the light is switched on and the contents of the room are revealed. As Christ’s presence in our world, we become his instruments to reveal his truth to a world in darkness. Light also awakens. We are to be the light of the world, awakening men, and women to the truth of the Kingdom’s arrival, awakening society to the presence of God. Lastly light can bring warning. In the same sense that a lighthouse warns of dangerous waters, or a police car flashing light warns of the policeman darting through traffic, the word of God brings admonition and warning to a careless world.
As a child Robert Louis Stevenson was in very poor health. And one night, when he was quite sick, his nurse found him with his nose pressed against the frosty pane of his bedroom window. “Child, come away from there. You’ll catch your death of cold,” she fussed, but young Robert wouldn’t budge. He sat mesmerized as he watched an old lamplighter slowly work his way through the black night lighting each streetlamp along his route. “See, look there,” Robert pointed. “There’s a man poking hole in the darkness.” That’s what we are called to do, poke holes in the darkness.
Jesus is calling us to be salt and light. The Christians’ seasoning is something to be tasted. The Christian’s light is something to be seen. Our Christianity should be vibrant and visible. Salt in a saltshaker and light under a bushel basket makes no impact. Christians void of visible deeds of compassion influences no one. God has called us to influence our world. We are called to make a difference. We can’t do everything. But we can do something. And what we can do, we ought to do. Jesus said to us… “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” It’s getting dark out there, so let’s go poke some holes in the darkness!