There have been recorded moments in history where the tides turned, where ideologies converged and where decisions were made that shaped futures for generations. My friend Dennis Peacocke points us to two distinct moments from the annals of time that affected just such change. The first such crossroads occurred in 325 AD when secularism and the church met and Constantine was converted. However governments cannot satisfy nor can they long exist without the author of government’s influence and dark ages were to follow setting the stage for science, philosophy and humanism to make their ascent to power and influence. The second great convergence occurred just after the civil war in the 1860’s when the church and secularism crossed paths again. This time however the church made a decision in the aftermath of America’s bloodiest conflict to say in essence… you can have the world, we’ll take heaven! The ensuing effects were that godlessness did take the world and where we are today in my humble opinion is a direct byproduct of that decision. So here we are! And I am not talking about politics nor am I making reference to an election. Here we are in this season of history and though the church may seem to be the least influential in this more than postmodern culture I have good news… God hasn’t changed a bit!
So what are we to do? Well, I am of the opinion we should take Jesus advice! “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” In other words to make a difference, to affect change in your surroundings as believers… Be Salt and Light!
It was in Czechoslovakia in the 1980’s where communists took away Vaclav Mal’y’s license to preach. He was put in the subways to clean the toilets of the subway system in Prague yet he continued to preach and hold secret church services in spite of his oppressors. In December of 1989 the people began to move in the streets. 800,000 people began to stand for freedom in was what was called the Velvet Revolution. As they marched however they were crying out Mal’y, Mal’y Mal’y! He’s the one the crowds wanted to see. So out of the toilets, out of the subways came father Mali and walked down the street as the crowds followed him to the square in old Prague. He preached, he led them in the Lords prayer; he called for any communist who wanted to repent and be forgiven to come forward. They came out of the crowds by the hundreds! The next morning the tanks were gone, not a drop of blood was shed and Czechoslovakia was free! Vaclav Halve, the new president of Czechoslovakia offered him anything, any position he wanted. He simply said no, I just want to preach the Gospel and so he went back to his church. A number of years later Chuck Colson went to Czechoslovakia and wanted to meet him. They met in his home, a dingy little apartment, simple and without extravagance. Colson knocked and a man came to the door, maybe 40 years old who kindly welcomed him into his home. They went up to his kitchen where papers with articles about him from around the world were piled up-you see, he was world famous. The New York Times credited him for freeing Czechoslovakia! They had a great visit but before leaving Colson said to him, “this was wonderful, you sir are a real hero to me.” He looked at Colson and said, “I’m
not a hero, Chuck. A hero is someone who does something he doesn’t have to do. I only did my duty.” Duty, did you hear that? I only did my duty. So what is our duty as Christians, as citizens? What is our duty in this moment? I think Jesus answered that earlier. We are called to be salt and light! But how can we, you ask? Let me suggest a few ways that have been resonating in my heart recently.
Encounter culture with truth and the Love of Christ. It occurred to me that salt cannot affect the taste of food until it comes into contact with said food. Secondly be Equipped with the truth of God’s word and our history which reflects an amazing God story. Then Engage… do our duty as followers of Christ making the difference He has called us to make. Shakespeare said it well… “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” Duty calls, will we answer?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.