The Jesus Conversations

Albert Bogle June 06, 2016 0 0
The Jesus Conversations

If we are people in conversation on the way, like the disciples of old, we will begin to ask questions of Jesus and each other.  One question that the church must constantly be asking is;  What does Jesus mean when he defines the Church as salt and light? 

Both of these elements are of course so important for life itself. We all recognise that salt adds taste to our food, which in turn nurtures us. We also understand the significance of light to help us grow and keep healthy. So rather than dis-engaging from the world I think Jesus in this conversation is encouraging his followers to become immersed in the day to day business of the world and to become the agents of transformation.

How then is this manifested in our communal and personal witness in the world? What does it mean in our world to be salt and light among the people with whom we live? This question will raise differing answers depending on where you live and work. It will also provoke us to consider the challenges that face us all as we begin to consider our world as a global village. One thing is for certain the light of the Gospel will always bring freedom, hope and justice.

During the 2010 Lausanne Conference in Cape Town, i remember well the theological undercurrent among many who were in attendance. All were passionate about the mission of the church, however how they interpreted the mission differed greatly. Some church leaders believe if the Word of God is preached the community will be transformed through the power of preaching. Their emphasis when Christians gather to worship is on preaching. This can in some cases lead to an unhealthy focus on the medium of preaching rather than the message itself. Thus preaching can become a performance rather than  a proclamation of a message simply shared by a messenger. Other church leaders believe it is the transforming action of the Word that becomes the salt and light which can be observed by the wider community. In such circumstances the emphasis is on action. This can bring about an ethos where the church appears to be focusing on good deeds rather than the Word of God and the spiritual implications of the grace of God that changes and transforms lives. In reality you can’t have one without the other. When the Word of God is preached and practiced and honoured, communities and individuals are changed. The church becomes like its master Jesus - it becomes the servant of all.

Reaching out to the poor and the needy in Christ’s name must surely be at the centre of all our mission strategies. Today as you walk and talk among friends neighbours and work colleagues, allow the presence of Christ to shed light into the dark corners of your conversations. Speak a word of hope that turns a distasteful comment into a word of blessing and forgiveness. As we speak out the living Word, the world around us becomes re-energised. I remember being told of a Christian who was counselling another as part of his work, In the conversation he spoke these words of Jesus - "the truth will set you free”. At that moment his client understood what he was to do. The man replied, "thank you for that, you’ve got great insight. What you have said is so profound, where did you find that phrase?”  My friend relied, Jesus of Nazareth.