Let’s face it. We live in a very polarized nation. It seems like the traditional understanding of right and wrong has been thrown aside and a new “morality” has taken over. Gone are the days of a declared demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. What once was considered vice has now become virtue. In the midst of this topsy-turvy environment, many Evangelicals are continuing the biblical mandate to be salt and light. Take, for example, the recently crafted Nashville Statement. This statement endorsed by leading Evangelicals in America simply affirms clear and historic biblical teaching on marriage and human sexuality. There is nothing new here. However, by the reaction of some, one would think that this was nothing more than a hate manifesto.
The mayor of Nashville, Megan Barry, denounced the statement as not representing the values of the city of Nashville. Author and television personality, Jenn Hatmaker, said the statement would produce “suffering, rejection, shame and despair.” Progressive Christian activist and author, Brian McLaren, refers to the statement as “Toxic Fruit.” In responding to the statement, columnist Jonathan Merritt writes these chilling words: “Conservative Christians are quickly becoming a minority on these matters. For better or for worse, they will soon be the ones who are considered unfaithful and sinful.”
Admittedly, some had an issue with the timing of the Nashville Statement because it was released while Texas was dealing with Hurricane Harvey. However, I think that the timing could not have been better. Here’s why. Jesus called for His followers to be salt and light. Salt and light make a difference in the environment in which they are introduced. Just try it. Turn the light on in a dark room. Put salt on your food. The difference is undeniable. The church is to be a difference maker. The church is not to just go along to get along.
Christians are also told to love their neighbor as themselves. In giving this command, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. This story is so well-known that it has become enshrined in law in some places. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, it has been noted how faith groups such as the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse have provided the lion’s share of the relief effort. Volunteers from these organizations and others have given tirelessly of their time and money to help to alleviate the hardships and suffering of those affected by these storms. These acts of kindness and sacrifice have come freely to those who have needed them. These Evangelical organizations are fleshing out the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The Nashville Statement is also Christianity in action. God’s plan for human sexuality and marriage is what works best. Deviation from God’s prescribed order brings hurt, heartache and confusion. If the church fails to declare plainly and without equivocation the biblical teaching on marriage and human sexuality, then we are failing to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are withholding good from others. So, whether it is the Nashville Statement or the hurricane relief effort, Evangelicals are being salt and light and in the process fulfilling the role of the Good Samaritan.