“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
Finally the people of God are told to turn from their wicked ways. The promises of this verse will never come to pass so long as the people of God are content to live in their sin and rebellion against God. Refusal to turn from the wicked ways would hinder what God could, would, and really wanted to do through His people.
Part of the purpose for the church is to be salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)
The main idea associated with salt in Jesus’ day is that it was a preservative. It was rubbed into meat to slow down the decaying process. One of the things about salt is that it is noticeable by its presence and by its absence. If meat had been salted this would be obvious by the fact that the decaying process had been slowed down. In the same way if meat had not been salted this would also be obvious because of its rapid decay.
To be salt in the world is to be a positive influence on the world for Christ. Just as the presence or absence of salt on meat is obvious, it is also obvious if Christians are influencing a culture or not. When there is an absence of Christian influence in a culture, it will be noticeable by the rapidly decaying morals of the culture. When Christians are influencing their culture, it is noticeable by the preservation of Godly morals in the culture. The church is meant to have a righteous influence on the world.
If salt is our impact on our culture, then light is our testimony before the culture. What we want to do is illuminate Jesus Christ in all we do. We want people to see Christ in us through everything we do as a Church and everything we do as individuals. This should be as evident, if not more evident, in the “ordinary” activities of our lives. Think about this. If you go to Sunday school and every service we have in a week, you will spend less than five hours a week at church. Now, compare that with…
How many hours you spend a week at work.
How many hours you spend a week with your family.
How many hours you spend a week with your children and the activities they are a part of.
How many hours you spend a week with other people with your own hobbies.
In light of that, where do you think Jesus wants the life and light He has given you to be most visible? The darker the place you are, the brighter your light will shine.
The reason this is important to understand is that sin limits our influence and tarnishes our testimony. In a lot of ways, the church of Jesus Christ has lost the moral high ground due to its sin. Let me tell you of just a few things I’ve read about recently.
A well known pastor had an affair. There are so many of these that happen it’s not even shocking any more.
Last year I read about a missionary doctor to Bangladesh who sexually abused women and children for like 30 years and it was continually covered up. An independent investigation recently found that he had molested four women and 18 children. These were missionary women and children. There was an unknown number of women and children in Bangladesh that he and his son molested.
A well known church in Indiana is being sued by some members/former members. Several years ago the pastor hired an investment banker to be like the official church financial counselor. The pastor and financial counselor encouraged the people to trust the guy to invest their money in what turned out to be a ponzi scheme. The pastor who hired the guy and encouraged the people to trust him is currently serving 12 years in prison for carrying on a long time affair with a teenage girl.
These are just the big ones that make some kind of news. This doesn’t take into consideration the number of “regular” Christians who…
Are just plain mean
Cuss someone out at a football game
Cheat on their spouse
Approve of their child living with someone without being married
Get caught embezzling
Cheating on their taxes
Being crooked in business
Padding their expense report
In a lot of ways, the morality of the culture is low because the morality of the church is low.
The church cannot effectively be salt and light while living in sin, or justifying sin. The godless culture around us rightly accuses the church of picking and choosing which sins are bad. I cannot condemn your sin while justifying and excusing my sin and expect anyone to think I have the moral high ground. We cannot slow the cultural spiral into depravity while giving in to our own depravity. We must repent of our sin.
God gives a promise in this verse. He promised that He would hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. The only hope to slow the spiral into depravity is for God to intervene. Only God can make the difference that needs to be made. We desperately need a mighty move of God in our day. Our nation needs this. Our community needs this. Our church needs this. But before this will come to our nation, our community or our church it must come to us as individuals. That’s why the “If” is so important. If we meet conditions that God has given, then we can be sure that God will perform the promises.