You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matt 5:13-16). That text is often cited as if it were a mandate for the church to engage in political activism – lobbying, rallying voters, organizing protests, and harnessing the evangelical movement for political clout. This Pavlovian reflex runs counter to the context of these verses that calls Jesus’ disciples to holy living. What’s most notable about the Beatitudes is that the qualities Jesus blesses are not the same attributes the world typically thinks are worthy of praise. The world glorifies power and dominion, force and physical strength, status and class. By contrast, Jesus blesses humility, meekness, mercy, mourning, purity of heart, and even persecution for righteousness’ sake. Collectively, these qualities are the polar opposite of political clout and partisan power. What is consistent in Jesus’ teaching is that He blessed people who were willing to be oppressed and disenfranchised for righteousness’ sake – peacemakers, not protesters; poor in spirit, not proud; people who are persecuted, not the pompous and power-mongers. It’s about how we live.
Executive Director of Grace To You