Rubbing Shoulders
John Telgren

I head a story about Gordon Maxwell, a missionary to India who asked a Hindu native to teach him the language. The Hindu replied, "No Sahib, I will not teach you the language, you would make me a Christian." The missionary replied, "You misunderstand me, all I want is for you to teach me the language, nothing more." The Hindu man responded, "No Sahib, no one can remain with you an not become a Christian."

Wow, what a great testimony to the life of this missionary! This is the type of effect we are called to have on the people around us. It is not just what we say, but how we say it. Even more so, it is our actions that have this kind of effect on people around us.

Think about it. Out of each of these means of communication, which has the greatest effect, our words, our tone, or our actions? If our words to not match our actions, which do people believe more? For instance, if I were to say, "I love you dearly," with a loud, shaky voice and blazing eyes, throwing a rock at your head, what message did you hear? The message that comes across is from my actions, not my words. Actions tend either to either amplify our words, or when it does not match what we say, cancel out our words altogether. So, the type of person you are, which is reflected in your actions, is the greatest message people will hear.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5:13-16).

Like the missionary, our whole life is to be salt and light to the people around us. This means two things. First of all, it means our character needs to be consistent with the character of our Lord. We need to be holy, righteous, kind, gracious, full of good fruits as our Lord was. Second, it means contact. Salt has no effect on what it has no contact with. John 1:14 reminds us that God is intensely personal, which means he made "contact." He made contact with us as a human being "in the flesh." Through his intensely personal contact, he "explained God" (Jn 1:18), and we "beheld his glory ," which was "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14).

This is the sort of thing we are to do as salt and light in the world. We are called to be "personal" as our Lord was. Though we are called out of the world and are no longer of it (Jn 15:19), we are also called to be in the world personally as salt and light (Jn 17:15; 1 Cor 9:19-23; Mt 5:13-16). As salt, we are called to rub shoulders with unbelievers, to spread the saltiness around. As light, we are called to shine in the darkness. We don't live in a Christian ghetto, but in the world as our Lord did.