The church … that’s you and me, that’s us … is present in the world. We are here. We occupy space. This is self-evident.
The church’s presence in the world is a given, but how the church is present in the world is a choice. There are many ways for the church to be present in the world, and some are, shall we say, less helpful than others. The crusades of the Middle Ages, for example. Present in the world? Yes. But … not in any way that one would interpret as giving witness to the good news of Christ Jesus.
Simply put, the “Good News” is supposed to be … well, “good!”
In Matthew 5, Jesus uses the metaphors of salt and light in order to make this point. The presence of salt enhances the flavors of the food it is sprinkled on. The presence of light illuminates places of darkness in the world. Salt and light are helpful, in other words.
They are compelling metaphors for another reason. Namely, that too much salt and too much light stop being helpful, and start to do harm. My blood pressure runs high, and I have to be careful of how much salt I eat or it may spike. And we all know what staring at the sun does to our eyes! Yeah, not helpful. It is a beautiful question to ponder, isn’t it? How much church is “too much” church?
The church’s witness in the world is a given; we are here. The church is one of the most visible groups of people in the world. Everything the church is and does is going to be a witness, whether it is intentional or not. When the church is divisive, or disengaged, or caught up in the contrived controversies that saturate the world around us, our witness suffers.
How we offer our witness is a choice we make. My prayer is that we choose a witness that reflects love, offers grace, and glorifies God. The Good News is supposed to be good news.