Viva Italia Ecclesia

Thanks for your prayers while Angela and I were serving in Bologna, Italy. It was a fantastic time. Jesus’ words about praying for God to raise up workers for the harvest field have never meant so much as they did looking at the enormous opportunity for the gospel in Italy compared to the tremendous dearth of Christian workers. Also, in such a clearly post-Christian world, we were impressed with how the bright-shining witness of God’s people is most evident. It was interesting to consider this in the light of Pastor Andy Brucato’s expositions on the Beatitudes in which he pointed out that true disciples live lives conspicuously different from unbelievers, and their character (as expressed in the Beatitudes) functions as salt in the world.
The emphatic tone of Jesus underscored the role of His disciples: “You and you alone are the salt of the earth” (v. 13). He was not announcing an opportunity for the entire world, but declaring a reality only for His followers. Like commissioned agents with specific orders, the effect their lives would bring was clearly determined.

Just as salt brings flavor by improving the taste of food, so their lives likewise would greatly affect those around them by bringing an enlightened understanding of life. The kingdom of God on earth shows lost people how to make a good but fallen world more beautiful. Because of their witness both in word and deed, the “salt” of their lives would slow down society’s decay and preserve what would otherwise result in futility and death.

Civilization’s greatest hope for preservation is the Church. The sense of divine accountability echoed in the words of Jesus underscores the influence believers have to arrest some of the effects of human corruption in culture. Christians bear responsibility for influencing society by living like Christians in every area of life. They are not to be sequestered or silent, but active in evangelism, working to right wrongs, and laboring to bring about justice. Their conduct and integrity preserve and flavor not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them. This is the Church’s opportunity wherever she lives.

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