Best of Daily Reflections: Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
When I was in college, my Christian fellowship group hosted a conference featuring a winsome speaker, Becky Manley Pippert. You might say that the talks she gave were about evangelism. But it would be better to describe her message as challenging Christians to live each day as salt in the world. She used the image of the saltshaker to describe the cloistered experience of many believers, who, though they are the salt of the earth according to Jesus, nevertheless remain clustered together in the safety of Christian fellowship without ever making relationships with people who are not believers. A couple of years later, Becky's talks took the form of an award-winning book: Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life (InterVarsity Press, 1979). This book, with over a half million copies sold, is still in print today.
Becky's exhortation to Christians to be salt in the world is sometimes heard with concern by believers who worry about too much contact with secular culture. Aren't we supposed to be a holy people, a people set apart from the world by God? If we get too mixed up with non-Christians, their ways, and their values, don't we run the risk of becoming compromised and tainted? Isn't it safer to remain apart from the "world," both its fallen ways and sinful people?
I suppose this might be the "safer" approach, but it's not the one recommended by Jesus, who says that we are the "salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13-14). Thus, detached safety is not an option for faithful Christians. Like Jesus himself, we are to be in the world, engaged with its people, institutions, and cultures.
Yet, this does not mean that everything goes when it comes to our interactions with the world and its people. In Ephesians 5:6-7, we read, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them." This text does not say we are to withdraw from deceivers and disobedient folk. It doesn't encourage us to crawl back into our Christian saltshakers. Rather, it assumes that we'll be engaged with those who are caught in sin and have yet to receive the grace of God in Christ. Engaged, yes. In conversation with, yes. In relationship with, yes. But partners, no! Partners are those who join in deception and disobedience. Such partners do not live as new people in Christ. Even if they have put their trust in Christ, they live as if their faith has made no tangible difference in their lives.
Today, we are reminded that, even as we live in the world among sinful people so that they might experience God's truth and love through us, we are not to join in sinful activity or become advocates of actions that displease God. When we leave the saltshaker to enhance and preserve this world, we must remain salty.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How has your Christian experience helped you to engage the world, or not, as the case may be? When does righteous relationship with non-Christians cross the line into partnership? In what ways can you be salt in your part of the world today?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the extraordinary fact that we are salt and light. Thank you for calling us to represent you in the world, in our words and deeds, in our worship and our work (which can be a form of worship). Help us, Lord, to be deeply engaged in this world, yet not to become partners with those who promote deception and live disobediently. Give us wisdom to know how we can be with the people in the world who need to experience your grace through us, yet without joining with them inappropriately.
May all that we do, Lord, glorify and honor you! Amen.
Aligning Talents with Dreams
This article is part of a series at The High Calling on Aligning Talents with Dreams. We’re talking about dreams—both big and small—that flow from an intimate relationship with God. And our talents? It’s the way God’s made us, though we may have to sharpen our raw talents into skills. Ideally, we’re equipped with talents to support the dream we’re given. But often, life’s timing isn’t perfect. Maybe we’re waiting to discover the dream, or maybe we’re waiting to develop the talent more fully. What’s it like when our talents and dreams converge? How can we get there? What can we do in-between, when we’re waiting? Join us as we discuss our God-given talents and dreams. Why not encourage others to join the conversation by sending these articles through email, social media or jumping into the comments at our website?
Featured image above by Cristina L. F.. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.