July 2, 2015

This past week has been a “dream come true” for American journalists. With controversies heating up around the Confederate flag and the Supreme Court decision regarding same-gendered relationships, there has been a lot of stories of a sensational nature to be offered. As responsible citizens, Christians are a part of these conversations affecting our society. Issues such as racism and homosexuality are not emotionless topics for conversation. These issues touch most Americans in a personal way. Consequently, few people are able to discuss these matters in an objective fashion, and sometimes we say things that we really do not mean to imply. The challenge for Christians as we join our fellow citizens in grappling with these issues is to never lose sight of the fact that Jesus died for those persons whom we often objectify in emotionally-driven rhetoric. To discuss the Confederate flag is to speak about a symbol which impacts persons who are black in one way, and persons of Southern descent in quite another. To fail to take their sensitivities seriously is to fail to take them seriously. Similarly, to speak about the SCOTUS decision in an abstract fashion that does not consider the feelings of those who are gay and lesbian, as well as those whose belief in the truth of Holy Scripture prevents them from affirming same-gendered unions, is to reduce people to issues and controversies.
In his first epistle, Saint Peter instructs “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:14-16). As we engage in discussions with others about such issues as racism and homosexuality, let us remember Peter’s instructions. When we model gentleness and respect in our conversations – even as we uphold the truth in what we say – we are living out our calling to be “salt” and “light” in the world.
Let us reflect upon the words of Jesus: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16). To be salt and light is to enhance our surroundings and the situations in which we find ourselves. Does our participation in conversations with others enrich and shed light, or are we overpowering and only emanating heat? God remains sovereign over heaven and earth, and Jesus is ever Lord of the Church. May we find our security in Him, and honor His Name in all of our conversations.