It’s been many weeks since I’ve created any blog post. It’s been a thinking time in which I have taken the hours or minutes allotted for blogging and used those temporal increments to organize the first 17 chapters of a book I’ve committed to write in the coming months.
We are a people of the “NOW,” so I’ve taken time in the “NOW,” the only real time we’re given, to become really risky in being salt and light. Those 17 chapters mentioned earlier are salt and light, both burning and blinding at once, both changing and creating me as I work. Salt and light, the both, are change creating catalysts that change as they touch.
One thing about writing, especially if you write out of your pain, your joy, your true “warts-and-all” authentic self, is that it’ll free you. Another thing about that process is that it’ll drain you as it frees you. It causes one to get even more real with oneself because the moment something is spoken or written it somehow becomes more true than it was before the speaking or the writing.
Salt and Light, present tense realities for followers of Jesus, are the authors of change, of difference, of unborn hope and truth taking present tense shape. They are the shapers and formers of God’s kingdom in our midst.
Jesus speaks of it in Matthew 5:13-20:
“13You 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 under foot. 14You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NRSV)
Earlier this week I posted verse 20 on my Facebook page in Koine Greek. I did that to keep it before my eyes whenever I’d pop online for a break from the work of ministry or to answer FB msgs sent my way. I also held it there to ponder a question. This is the two-part pondering question, “Who in 21st century life are our scribes and Pharisees? And, what does their righteousness look like?”
Jesus establishes a baseline for what the followers of Jesus should surpass, not the scribes and the Pharisees, but their righteousness. Since there are no 1st century scribes and Pharisees cavorting about the globe these days, then how would we recognize that equivalent righteousness in the 21st century? Would we even recognize such righteousness if we were those practicing it ourselves? Isn’t this worth our time to ponder?
I have no answers here; all I offer are questions.
Since Jesus calls his followers salt and light in the “NOW,” and since salt and light are the authoring catalysts of change, perhaps the 21st century righteousness of 21st century scribes and Pharisees looks like all our lit lamps securely hidden under bushel baskets, the hiding of light so effectively walling away that others cannot see, so clearly the intentional withholding of what is so clearly gift, the squandering of cities set on hills. Now savorless salt. Now walled off light. Now barren hilltops. That sort of righteousness just should not be.