GOD will bless and reward us for living out a righteous life. All of us enjoy claiming and realising the second portion of the familiar verse: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33; NKJV). There may, however, be trials along the way or even persecution.
Nevertheless, JESUS has affirmed, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:10-12; NKJV).
Even as Stephen was stoned to death for the gospel of Christ, he did the right thing by pleading with God to forgive his persecutors (see Acts 7:60). It was a righteous act which was in line with the supreme precedent set by Jesus of Nazareth as He hung on the cross at Calvary.
Righteousness is not just a good feeling or a nice thought. It is seen in our behaviour, habits, and gets established in us to form our character, leading us to our destiny. Our righteousness or right standing is not primarily of our own making but God’s. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21; NKJV).
As we abide in Christ and His word abide in us we become spiritually minded to flourish as a fruitful tree of life and righteousness. We also need to be anointed with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to rest upon us -- even the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, Counsel and Might, Knowledge and the Fear of the LORD. By the by, it may be said of us what has been said of Christ Jesus -- “Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist” (Isaiah 11:5; NKJV).
Wherever we go, His Righteousness will come forth through us and impact all whom we meet along the path of life. The following exhortation serves to spur us on to allow Christ’s nature to be formed in us:
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. FOR IT IS BETTER, IF IT IS THE WILL OF GOD, TO SUFFER FOR DOING GOOD THAN FOR DOING EVIL” (1 Peter 3:8-17; NKJV).
When all was lost for mankind JESUS,THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (see Jer. 23:6) saved the day for us all. Now He calls us who are redeemed to be salt of the earth and light of the world.
Salt is a many splendour substance. It flavours and seasons our food, serves as a preservatives for food, invigorates tired bodies after physical exercise when taken as part of an isotonic drink, disinfect our wounds, ease our sore throat when gargled with water, and creates thirst (for the Word of God). And, that’s how we are to be like so as to impact our community and world, our culture and civilisation.
Over the years of Christendom we have unwittingly created our own culture which keeps out the pre-believers. We do our church and church related stuffs, and gotten all religious just as the Pharisees in JESUS’ days on earth. If I may say so, we are sometimes too pious for our own and everyone else’s good. We oughtn’t be too heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.
Somehow the things that we do out of church and church culture such as playing golf does not tee off as something spiritual, i.e., where God is in the picture. So we play only Christian songs on our guitars and write-off all other songs as being too worldly for our spiritual good. Yet, we find that our human soul, be that of Christians or pre-believers are made in the same mould, wherein we naturally enjoy doing many of the legally and morally good stuffs (e.g. listening to music which are unadulterated).
We are in the world but not of the world. Christians are earthlings too, but redeemed of the Lord (Glory be to God!). Our innocence in staying clear off the good things of life apart from church and church culture is not a virtue. Rather, we have virtue when our innocence is tested and we obtain a “Passed” mark. So, we choose the movies that we watch, books that we read, and so forth in the light of God’s word and the direction of the Holy Spirit rather than throw a wet blanket over everything that fall outside church and church culture.
How else can we evangelise our world if we do not engage our fellow pre-believers aside from just wanting to preach to them and tell them about our Christian faith? It’s time for us to be natural as salt is and come out of the salt shaker; get out of the glass wall of church culture. Play golf with a pre-believer (with your spouse’s approval, which you could probably garner if you have already been spending time enough at home with your family) and talk about life with your non-Christian buddies along the fairway on whatever you guys fancy (e.g. stocks, fast cars, movies, and what-not.) Let them see that you are a real person, after all, with feet firmly planted on the ground.
It’s time we see that golf and, for that matter, many other legally and morally good things are not un-Christian. Loosen up. Playing golf or rearing ornamental fish (e.g. koi or arowana) does not make one any more or less of a Christian. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23; NKJV). Our religiosity will not get any one saved.
Also, we oughtn’t keep people from coming until they are cleaned up. Jesus dealt with prostitutes and tax collectors with love. Let the people come to the LORD and let the Holy Spirit does the work of convicting them of their sins. Once saved, the cleaning up will commence as the new converts become rooted in Christ and go through the fiery furnace of refining their faith which is much more precious than gold, by far.
Salt is a natural substance which comes about in the process of time. Light, on the other hand, is divine. In the beginning when the world was in darkness, “Then God said “Let there be light”; and there was light”(Gen. 1:3; NKJV). And, when the world fell into spiritual darkness, JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD came forth and we understand from the Word of God how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Act 10:38; NKJV)
And this is the message [ the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]” (1 John 1:5-7; Amp.).
The Light of God is far-reaching, dispels darkness, illuminates, and guides. Will we be a willing and ready vessel for the Light of Christ to manifest? As our redeemed humanity (Salt) blends with the Light of Christ, we will stay engaged with people outside of church and manifest the Presence of God’s kingdom within us in the way that we live and move and have our being.
In conclusion, let us be reminded that “.. if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned” (Matt. 5:13a; NKJV)? and “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; NKJV).