Well time has passed and everyone has had time to reflect on the riots that swept our country. No doubt different people will come up with different reasons why it happened (probably each containing a bit of the truth) and what should be done about it. The government will, no doubt, see the people who took part in the riots as completely to blame and enforce, defend and demand harsh sentencing. The left-wingers (like myself, let’s be honest) will call for deeper think into the problems that led us to that point and demand things be done to bring these people back into society.
However, I’ve been pondering who’s exactly to blame, who’d fault led to this mess and who needs to change their ways. “Who?” I hear you ask. Well … the church! By the church I don’t mean the institution as such, but Christians. Us everyday Christians who live and work in the real world. It’s our fault, we’re to blame. Now I’m not expecting many of the politicians, or T.V. journalists to come to the same conclusion. Although, I’d love to see it defended on ‘Question Time’!
A number of metaphors are used to describe the church in the Bible, to describe what God’s people would be like in the world. Here’s perhaps the most famous two:
13You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matt 5:13-16
So Jesus describes the church as “salt” and “light”. Let’s think about that.
Salt today is mainly used for flavour, but in Jesus’ day it was much more important. There were no freezers. No fridges of canned goods. If you wanted to keep meat for any length of time, especially in a hot climate, then you needed salt. Salt would preserve the meat. That’s the job of the church. The world is like meat, left to itself, it will rot. The church’s job is to be salt, to stop that rotting. If meat rots, it is hardly the meat’s fault. That’s what meat does. No, the fault is in the salt. If the world rots, it is hardly the world’s fault. That’s what the world does. No, the fault is in the church. And if the church has lost its saltiness, what good is it?
Likewise, with light. If the world is getting darker, it is hardly the dark that deserves blame, as darkness is simply the absence of light. No, if the world is getting darker, what we need is for the light to get brighter.
As the infamous, and brilliant, quote says, “All it takes for evil to prosper, is for good men to do nothing” (I think Burke said it originally, but whoever said it, it’s true!). Our country, and indeed our world, has been rotting and the church has, seemingly, done nothing.
David Cameron (this may be the only time I ever quote him in a way that could be thought of as favourable!) described our country as not just broken, but “sick”. If our country is sick, where’s the medicine, where are the doctors and hospitals. I feel, to add yet another metaphor, Jesus would answer that it is our job.
The salt has lost its saltiness, let’s hope we re-find it, before everyone realises it was our fault after all!