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Blessings and Responsibilities

By Aiah Foday-Khabenje

March2014

March 2014

 

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

-- Matthew 5: 1-2 --

 

 

Christ followers are concerned about the direction of our world, perhaps more than at any other time in history. The decay of morality and the plurality of postmodern worldviews often are in direct conflict with the Christian worldview. But this is still God’s world. In spite of it being marred by sin and impacted by other aspects of fallen humanity, the world is indeed the creation of the Lord God.

 

The Church is an agent of God for the transformation of the world. The Church of Jesus Christ is at the center of God’s plan for the healing and restoration of the world. This is God’s one and only plan. There appears to be no “plan B.” It is through God’s family, the people of faith, the Church, that the nations of the world will be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).

 

Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:1-12 are some of most-known verses in Christendom. The Beatitudes are provided as a type of introduction to what is often called The Sermon on the Mount. The blessings go with a description of the characteristics of the followers of Christ: poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness, insulted and falsely accused and they have all kinds of evil said about them because of Christ.

 

People often mistakenly interpret these characteristics as signs of weakness and vulnerability. This is unattractive to the world. As if anticipating this response, Jesus moves ahead to declare that Christians are the SALT and LIGHT of the world! Consider the characteristics of salt and light as metaphors for Christians: 

  1. Salt. This was and is a valuable commodity in the home and in society. Roman soldiers were paid in salt. Salt was one of the commodities offered in exchange for humans as slaves in parts of Africa. Salt is also a mark of friendship. To share salt with someone communicated a mutual responsibility. It was also used to bind covenants in the Ancient Near East (2 Chronicles 13:5). Salt has these characteristics:

    • Color - white, signifying purity.
    • Flavor - for food to have flavor, it must have salt.
    • Stings - when placed in a wound, it stings as part of the healing process.
    • Creates thirst - increases the body’s graving for water.
    • Preserves - retards decay and preserves.  

  2. Light.Light dispels darkness. The darker the night, the brighter a light shines. Light illumines. The food chain is dependent on light. Light is critical for life.  

 

Christ followers who display the qualities listed in the Beatitudes are like salt and light. They have an important role in the society. God uses them to purify the world. They exemplify divine standard of righteousness in thought, action and speech. They add a divine flavor to the world.

 

Followers of Christ also pierce the conscience of society and bring an element of discomfort. The gospel of repentance is not soothing music; it is somewhat offensive as it calls for change, cleansing and healing. Messages on sin are not interpreted as good news (John 3:18, 36), but this is part of the task of the Church. By God’s grace, we can have a preserving influence in the world, helping prevent spiritual and moral spoilage. When love and integrity flow from the lives of Christ followers, God uses this saltiness to create a thirst in the lives of those who do not know Him.

 

Jesus is the Light of the world (John 9:5). The light that radiates from his followers is not our own. At best, all we do is to reflect the light of Christ. Disciples of Christ, like light bulbs, must remain connected to the Source of light to give light.

 

Why is there so much darkness and hurt in my country of Sierra Leone, in America and around the world? Yes, depraved people do depraved acts, but there may be another factor. Perhaps the Church has lost some of the qualities as salt and light. Perhaps many sections of the Church are of no use or consequence to anyone. May God help us.

 

The world is waiting for relief and salvation. The woman across the street from you. Your coworker. The farmer down the path. The village leader. People are waiting for salt and light.

 

God’s plan for the salvation of the world is Jesus. As the Father sent him so has Jesus sent his followers to make disciples of all nations (John 17:18). Dear brother or sister, as we obey this commission of Jesus, the Spirit of God will become even more real and powerful in our lives. That is a promise we can stand on firmly. So today, let us be salt and light.

 

About the Author

Foday-Khabenje currently serves as the General Secretary for the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, one of seven regional movements comprising the World Evangelical Alliance. He is also a lay elder in the Presbyterian Church. Foday-Khabenje also served two terms as chair of the Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and as a state commissioner for the review of the national constitution of Sierra Leone. Foday-Khabenje intersected with FollowOne when he participated in a Doctor of Ministry program James Loftin facilitated in China in 2013.

 

A Word from James

Aiah Foday-Khabenje uses one word to describe his life. “Amazing!” He is the third son of a single-mother in Sierra Leone, a country with one of the highest infant mortality rates, Foday-Khabenje more than survived. He has used this miracle as a platform to impact his nation and the world for Christ. Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people?

FollowOne is helping Christ followers and congregations bring glory to God by serving the poor, transforming communities and taking the Good News to strategic populations around the world.

 

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