“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world.”
During the Second World War the Director of Religious Broadcasting for the BBC thought that C. S. Lewis had something to say to a nation at war. He then invited Lewis to give a series of radio talks to the nation about the Christian faith. Lewis’ radio talks delivered from 1942 to 1944 were transcribed and published as the book, Mere Christianity. In one broadcast Lewis drew upon the imagery of a nation at war and threat of invasion to illustrate what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Lewis said:
Enemy occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
The etymology of Lewis’ word “sabotage” provides a vivid picture of the great campaign in which we find ourselves today as we serve the rightful King. Sabotage derives from the French “sabot”, wooden shoe. When French workers went on strike they took off their wooden “sabots” and threw them into the factory’s machinery and clogged up everything. Lewis held forth the imagery of Christians acting as saboteurs throwing monkey wrenches into the machinations of the Kingdom of Darkness.
As I read and ponder today’s scripture it seems that Christ is calling us to acts of quiet acts of sabotage, as we are “the salt of the earth”. In Jesus’ day salt was essential for fishermen like Peter, James, and John to preserve the fish they caught on the Sea of Galilee. Without the salt the fish would quickly spoil and become rotten. Jesus is saying that without the preservative power of His followers the culture would rot in coarseness, cruelty and injustice.
In the context of today’s passage Jesus calls for His followers to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, to be peacemakers, to be pure in heart, and to bless those who abuse and persecute them (Matthew 5:1-11). By each random, quiet act of goodness they will sabotage the Kingdom of Darkness. And in doing this they can know they are preparing for the landing of the world’s rightful King.
William Penn was a devout Christian who founded Pennsylvania with the prayer and the hope that they were founding a society built on Jesus’ subversive principles of righteousness. Penn wrote in his 1682 “Frame of Government of Pennsylvania” the secret of how good government works:
Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good, and the government cannot be bad; if it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good they will endeavour to warp and spoil it to their turn.
I read the news and am reminded that without the preservative salt of God’s people the government and culture rots! Today we have yet another opportunity to commit more random acts of goodness and throw a shoe in the machinery of evil. And in doing this, we become saboteurs of the evil kingdom and serve the rightful King!
“I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
—Edward Everett Hale
Grace and peace,