Focus on Faith

Phil Collins

We are witnessing a change in Western society; racial discrimination is being challenged.

What is the role of the faith community? Have we lost our voice?

Eighteen months ago, I stood on a perfectly groomed lawn, with strategically placed palm trees swaying in the breeze. The bright flower beds were wonderfully manicured, and the legendary Sea of Galilee glittered before me. I could have been standing at an Okanagan winery.

This was the spot Jesus had delivered his world-shaking Sermon on the Mount. It did not look like this when Jesus preached early in his ministry. He spoke to a group of poor Galilean villagers who were irrelevant to the rest of the world. It would have been a rocky hillside with the same stunning view. On this spot, Jesus said, you are the Salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13). Heads would have turned. It would have been laughable that these humble people would be anything to the earth.

Today we have fridge-freezers, ice machines and vacuum-packed foods. Back then, the only way you kept the meat from rotting and the flies swarming was to take a salt solution and rub it into the meat. Jesus was looking at this group and speaking with them, and us, in mind. You and your presence will stop the decay of the world, and you will be that salt that makes a difference to the rot.

This may surprise some people. Jesus believed faith stops the rot in families, communities, and nations. A little bit of salt can make a big difference. You and I are called to bring healing, rubbing salt into the infected wounds of society.

Just a dash of salt goes a long way! William Wilberforce, the man who almost alone created the Slavery Emancipation Bill in England, was living proof of this. Hindered by illness, he did not appear to be a character who would complete anything.

After attending one of his lectures, James Boswell wrote of him, “I saw a shrimp mount the table, but as I listened, he grew and grew until the shrimp became a whale.”

Tiny, elfish, misshapen, he was salt to British society, not only bringing preservation but enticement to Christ by his magnificent life. A little salt will make its presence felt.

Salt can make a difference. Christ’s expression of this image is fundamentally encouraging. Jesus said, “You (resounding: you alone) are the salt of the earth.”

Jesus says, “I believe in you. I have called you.”

Jesus believes that we can have a healing, preserving influence on our society and world. He believes that we can bring flavour to life and make the world thirsty for him. You may feel irrelevant, but you can make a difference.

Phil Collins is pastor at Willow Park Church Kelowna.