Assume for a second we, as teens, really get it. We are watching/listening to the right things, choosing our friends wisely etc. But what do we really need to do to affect the people around us?
First of all, I’m very glad Jake asked this question. If people weren’t asking these kinds of questions after reading our posts, something would be very wrong.
However, before jumping right in, we would do well to recognize that reading, watching, listening, and spending time with wise companions is a mammoth task. I’m ashamed to say that yesterday I sat down with a book of Foxtrot comic strips and wasted a good 20-30 minutes. I don’t say that to be legalistic about reading comics. I enjoy a well-written strip. In fact, our country could use a Christian Amend (Foxtrot), Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Adams (Dilbert), or Schultz (Peanuts). Still, I cannot deny that after spending that particular time period reading about the exploits of Jason and his pet iguana, I felt convicted of hypocrisy. This is a continual battle against the culture. You can’t just “get it.” Furthermore, even if you could just “get it,” the change doesn’t happen instantaneously. We’ve grown up in a media-saturated culture whose expectations of young people are incredibly low. The residual effects of that social conditioning cannot be wiped away with Windex.
With that said, we as Christians, imperfect as we are, are commanded to be salt and light to the earth. How do we rise up to that calling as young people? In this post, let us examine exactly what Jesus meant when He told us to be salt and light.[Note: The following is still more foundational, rather than specific, but the specific is coming. Don’t worry.]
A common misconception regarding the command to be “salt” is the idea that it means that we’re to give the world flavor. Christians make the world taste good. However, while salt was used to flavor foods at the time of Christ, this was not its primary purpose. Rather, in a time before refrigeration, pasteurization, and pressure cooking, salt was highly valued as a preservative. A little salt rubbed into meat would slow decay. Our calling as Christians is not just to make the world taste good, but more importantly, to preserve it. As rebelutionaries, we are called to fight against the push of our culture towards moral and intellectual depravity. We must do this individually and corporately; if we lose our saltiness, we accomplish nothing; if we are isolated, we accomplish nothing.
The command to be “light” is also open to misconception. One common misconception is the notion that being a light involves being very careful not to draw attention to yourself, but just standing around and letting your little light shine, wherever you happen to be. But this is the exact opposite of the examples used by Christ. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” If you’re traveling nearby at night, you cannot help but see it. It arrests your attention. In the same way, a lamp set on a stand lights up the entire house. Light is incredibly invasive. Our calling as Christians is not only to shine our light brightly, but most importantly, to do so in such a way and in such an arena that we cannot be ignored. Again, we must do this individually and corporately.
As you might have guessed, the most important thing to recognize here is the necessity of both individuals and communities. A community is made up of individuals. We must each take on the responsibility of reforming our own lives, and then come together in order to effect change in the culture around us. In the posts that follow, we’ll be examining exactly how we do that.
“And though the culture might prevail against one who is isolated, two will withstand it—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”