I received my draft notice during the Vietnam War. I was to report for active military duty at the Federal Building in Minneapolis, MN on a set date. When my friends heard I was joining the Army, a woman prophesied over me that “the Army would swallow me up like a ravenous lion.”
I had never been prophesied over before and frankly didn’t know what to do with it. However, I decided to take it seriously, so I consciously chose to follow Jesus during the years I served in the Army. The Lord was with me and enabled me to maintain my integrity and witness for Him the whole time I served in the military. Those three years of active duty helped me grow in the Lord and influence others toward Him.
Since then, I’ve worked in other “worldly” environments in which it would’ve been easy to become more like a chameleon, taking on the characteristics of those around me, instead of being salt and light to them. But there’s always a tension to compromise and mimic those around us instead of serving as a representative of Christ. I’m sure you’ve felt that tension too.
Throughout history, some well-meaning Christians thought the answer to this dilemma was to separate from the world and create a Christian enclave where they could be safe from the corrupt influences of those around them. But this is not the way that Jesus has for us. And because we’re all sinful, they took their sin and worldliness right into their enclaves with them.
In John 17, Jesus prayed to the Father in the presence of His disciples. He said, “They [My disciples] are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Then, later in His prayer He says, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” (John 17:14-15, 20)
After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) And in Matthew 5:13-14, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”
The Apostle Paul explained that we are to be “the pleasing aroma of Christ” to the world (2 Corinthians 2:15). He also calls us “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are Christ’s representatives to the world.
All that being said, we live in a sinful world. We must decide whether we’ll give in and carouse with the world taking on their character or follow Jesus and be His representatives in the world. Also, we dare not think in terms of “them and us.” If we’re honest, we know how frail we are. We’re still sinners. And the only thing that separates us from the world is our trust in Jesus Christ.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
Therefore, we must go about our lives humbly and sincerely, fully recognizing who we are where we came from. We are sinners saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We must walk with Christ each day and purpose to live for Him and to represent Him well before others through our life and words.
This is not a heavy burden but a light one (Matthew 11:30). Living like this for Jesus is a life of love, peace, joy, and supreme purpose!
Watch for my next blog post in which we’ll look at the practical side of how to be salt and light in the world for Jesus.