Blog # 398 We are salt; we are light
I really should not be surprised at this, but sometimes I actually do feel surprised when I am
reading something from Moses, David, or one of the ancient Prophets in the Hebrew ('Old') Testament and find it so similar to what I have ben accustomed expect and find in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels An example of this is Isaiah 58: 5 - 10, and at.5:13 - 16. These words of Isaiah indicate something of our relationship with the world and people around us. It has been and continues to be a popular notion among people in our present moment of history. Isaiah in an interesting and forceful way speaks of God as ready and enthusiastic about answering our desires for help in bringing mercy and love to those who live around us in one or another form of need.
Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, This is what I want, says God. Ask for help, and I will come. The needs Isaiah speaks of are physical needs, needs for food, clothing and shelter, here on earth. God's endorsement of the project of bringing help indicates God's desire that we live comfortably and securely. But God's desire is for comfort and security be the condition of all people. As for the people in the time of Isaiah, so for us today, all of our work for social justice, our efforts to aid the poor and needy can and should be grounded in this universal divine desire. The poor, the hungry, the homeless, on their part should be able to ground their hope in this same divine desire.
It is not always an easy thing to do on either side. Evidence of the manifold and complex difficulties involved are played out on our TV screens as we witness the argumentation going on in Washington and across the country with regard to social security, tax, and welfare reform. We have to believe that everyone can be worthy of God's love. We have to trust there can be enough food and resources for all. But the more basic need, the fundamental need, is that we be in touch with God, the source of faith, the treasurer of hope.
I do not know what proportion of those currently representing us in Congress believe in God or are regular church-goers. I imagine there is a good number of Congress persons who do. But faith and trust in God, prayer for God's wisdom for making political decisions, explicit reference to God's presence and design on earth are not publicly and constantly brought to the floor as relevant to the work of deciding who should have what of the American pie.
And that is where Isaiah comes in. He emphatically claims the problems can be solved if we seek and find the will of God. It is a clear vision. For me it is true. I believe it. We need not, and cannot hope to make the right decisions and solve the problems on our own.
The same God Who inspired Isaiah's insights and convictions is the same God Who speaks in Jesus. He too lived among the problems of the poor and the rich, the hungry and the well-fed. His advice and commands are the same as those of Isaiah. Feed, clothe.shelter. Seek first the reign of God and all that you need will be yours. Pray. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love one another as I have loved you. What a world it would be if we all listened learned and followed!
The images Jesus uses bear further reflection. He speaks of us as salt and of salt becoming useless if it loses its flavor. This would seem to warn and remind us of the possibility of losing or weakening a conscious awareness of our identity as believers, as members of the Body of Christ. Whether our work be among the poor or to keep ourselves from becoming poor, it is essential that we be identified and empowered with the wisdom goodness and generosity of the Lord. This is our flavor as Christian believes. When it is lost we are useless in effecting God's plan on earth.
In the way Jesus uses the image of light we are reminded of or being sent as Christians into the world around us. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket. The implication is that God did not give us the gift of faith, the light of truth, merely for the sake of our personal salvation, but rather that we should shine that light upon the world around us, that we share the light with others. There are needs, there are problems, there are questions that can only be supplied solved and answered by God. We are to be God's light in darkness. Jesus told us so.