Salt and Light
February 12, 2020
What would you say about a parent that left the gas stove running and matchbooks all around the floor and left their children in the house alone? Some writers think that God did much the same with humanity. Why make such a wonderful and dangerous human creature and leave us with so many ways to destroy ourselves? How can we maintain the goodness of God, creation, and humanity with so much evidence of destruction?
Some might minimize the horrendous evil humans do, either willfully or because it is almost impossible to really connect with suffering on the scale of the Holocaust, or the Killing Fields of Cambodia, or the Middle Passage, or the genocide of Western Expansion in North America. Many of us make this history of mass carnage a story about other people at other times that does not apply to us. We reassure ourselves that we are morally good as individuals, so the heinous acts of humanity in general do not reflect on us or cause us to pause and reflect.
What do we do with the blunt fact of human malevolence? We can, of course, blame God for making us capable of great wrongs. We can blame God for not doing enough or sharing enough information to set us on the right path. The irony is, of course, that God has shared everything and withheld nothing, yet we still struggle to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world that we are called to be. As St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans, “I know what is right and still I do what is wrong.”
Lack of knowledge is not the problem. Lack of dependence on God is.
We are fallible and clumsy beings - capable of transcendent beauty and horrifying atrocity. We gather in community to pray and receive the grace of God’s total self-giving love in word and sacrament as our remedy, our correction, our conversion from the path of corruption to the path of humility, loving-kindness, and reconciliation. Whatever the world of pain and suffering is, and wherever it came from, we have in the Way of Love, the Way of Jesus, a path through it. This path transforms and purifies us, so we can reflect His grace as salt and light in the places of deepest shadow.
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel