Sermons. The Church that influences this world

The Church is called the salt of the earth to prevent this world from rotting morally. The influence of the Church should be powerfully spread over the fields which Jesus marked in His Mountainside Sermon.

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Pavel Zhelnovakov

Dear friends, let’s meditate upon the function of the Church in the world today.

The world around us contemplates the task which our societies should accomplish. There are many tasks and many of them are far-fetched.  People just make money on them.  They take a problem, discuss it for a while and stir things up. Then they draw public attention to a new problem. 

Unfortunately it happens like this among the leaders of different programs. Something absolutely unreal is being suggested to our people today. The leaders manipulate public opinion which is really indecent and even disgusting.  “Any bauble of folly will keep baby jolly.”

What is it on our minds when we ponder on the task of the Church, especially in the light of the latest hostage-taking in Moscow?  Those scoundrels who kidnapped those people were nurtured by someone. Their terrible way of madness had to have a starting point. Someone didn’t give them the right task, but that which made them fanatics without sober minds.  They weren’t stopped when it was necessary.

There’s a task for the government, but there’s a task for the Church also. It’s really important to think about this, especially in the course of those prophetic revelations which were made far away from Russia. What is the Church’s task on a governmental scale?  Some will say, “No, we’re down on the ladder, we will wait to see the boss- he will tell us what to do, of course.”  I don’t think we need to be of such narrow and low esteem of ourselves. The Church has a clear and important purpose.

The Church consists of people- that means each of us has his own task, because we’re part of the Church.

It’s not about a private task in my family or working place, but about my task as a representative of the Church.  I think if churches in different countries took a closer look at this God-assigned mission, there would be less outrages happening in the world today.

A striking example of this is South Korea.  Some decades ago Christians were little in number there. But those Christians who were there started to contemplate their mission in this world.  They began to pray about their families, relatives, and friends –and the Church began to grow.

Despite the fact that Protestantism in Korea is about 100 years old, within just a short period, evangelical Christians grew to account for about 25 % of the country’s population.  This event exerted such a powerful influence on S. Korea’s economy, politics, and society that the national moral situation changed dramatically.  Vile statesmen, financiers and other unscrupulous representatives at different levels eventually retired, and today South Korea is a flourishing country.

We know from the history of America that the prosperity of a Christian way of life quickly furthered the well-being of its citizens. The US Presidents made appeals for national fasting and prayer and that brought an essential blessing to their country.  At that time the Church in America took its place in society, staying away from governmental affairs because God doesn’t permit the Church to do it. The Church has its own mission on this earth, and it should fulfill it in the right way.

So, what is the mission of the Church?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world. How wonderful it is!

Let’s return to our country. I have seen some “bombastic accounts” made by some politicians and church representatives.  From these accounts you get the impression that 85% of the population in Russia are Christians!   Christians who are immoral, impure, alcoholics, drug-addicted, murderers, robbers, rapists…. I think we have many demands and questions on account of such “Christians.”

I have a simple question: if 25% of the population in Korea are Christians and that country prospers, but in Russia there is supposedly 85% Christians-- maybe we live in Paradise already?  It is a terrible “paradise” then.

Dear friends, we need to admit that the Church in Russia- both Protestant and Orthodox, have no strong impact on our society. We need to admit it however bitter and regrettable it may be.

From the Holy Scriptures we know God’s promise that if two or three people on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them. God cannot lie, so the reason is in us. Maybe we ask badly in our prayers, or there’s no consent between us?

I often ask believers, “Do you testify about Christ?” The answer of some astonishes me, “No.”

I ask another question, “Do people around you know that you are a Christian?”- “No!!!”

I don’t understand what such a person lives for?  Small wonder, therefore, that there are so many difficulties in life?

God assigned a very clear mission to the Church: it should not only be moral, but also be a powerful disseminate of Christian morality: “You are the salt of the world, you are the light of the world.”

What is salt for? Housewives widely use salt to preserve products for winter time – a well salted product will never spoil or decay.

The Church is called the salt of the earth to prevent this world from rotting morally. The influence of the Church should be powerfully spread over the fields which Jesus marked in His Mountainside Sermon.

This morality isn’t achieved just by the tongue, but by a way of life which is so captivating that unbelievers who happen to be near a believer can sense that some law starts to influence them so that they are unable to swear in the presence of this person!  Something restrains them from inner decay.  This is what Jesus means by, “You are the salt.”

God assigned such a task to the Church. Wherever a representative of the Church appears, be it in the sphere of business, politics, education, etc., his holy responsibility is to be honest, just, holy and with triumphant love.

The Church doesn’t exist by itself, like an exhibit in a museum so that people look on it and think, “Yes, of course, we should orient ourselves to it.”

From time to time we read newspaper articles of negative color aimed at the Orthodox or Protestant Church. Sometimes this mistreatment has a reasonable basis.  It sometimes happens that the reason for writing such an article is true, yet really disgusting. It’s a terrible thing when a church sells alcohol, cigarettes and doesn’t pay taxes to the government- what a fine “salt” indeed!

But the name of this salt- “salt that has lost its saltiness. Then it’s thrown out and trampled by men.”

Oh, the press will do its best in such cases! They like to make splashes.

Public opinion will trample on the Church which lost its authority (“salt that lost its saltiness”). “It’s thrown out and trampled by men” – for their mockery.  Such salt without saltiness serves as an object for negative discussion, scorn and ridicule.

The Church is destined not only to accumulate an understanding of virtue and order, morality and purity inside, but also to disseminate it by all possible means. The most powerful way is how we live.

So that all neighbors can see that good, peaceful people living around them who will help whenever help is needed. Their good children are well brought up, and their smile comes from their heart.

As one woman in the Bible said after observing the prophet Elisha, “He is a holy man.”

The second task of the Church is to be light.

The Bible doesn’t describe that we can or should strive to become the salt and the light for this world. God clearly said, “You are the salt of the earth”, “You are the light of this world.”

One day I thought, ‘to which extent can light spread?  The task of light is simple: not to act by a narrow-pointed beam but to light everything around. Light doesn’t illuminate a little space, no, it lights all space.

So, the task of light is to brighten up everything! It can light up both the decent and the indecent. It must light everything.’

In the same way, the Church should light the world, and thus cover many spheres of social life.

I believe that God can present to those people who work in politics, business, science, economics and other spheres of social life different revelations which will reveal vast opportunities for the nation.

Light is light, its being set to fire in order to light that which was in darkness.

 

A small example from the Bible in connection with this:

“Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”

The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.”

So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, ”Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”

“None of us, my Lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

 

The security service of any country would give the world to have such a man as Elisha- it was impossible to hide anything from him. The king of the enemy’s army “whispered in his bedroom”, and the prophet had already informed it to the leaders of his country…

Dear friends, I’m so indignant at what is happening today in our country.   I’m indignant at what happened one year ago on September eleventh in America.  Why Christianity which is the light of this world couldn’t by praying, receive a clear word from the Lord that these crazy bandits had been preparing terrorist attacks? Why didn’t light expose the intentions of crazy people?  Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox –all of us say that we have a special guidance from God.

Could the reason be that those voices who had advice from God sounded too lonely even for the Church?

Then why does Russia, boasting of its 85% religiousness, throw itself at modern fortune tellers and wizard’s feet?

Yesterday on TV I heard “a marvelous revelation” of one fortune-teller in connection with one of the hostages who was captured in the Moscow theatre, “Your relative is in a big house.”

Bravo! Praise to madness and foolishness!

Everyone understood that all of the victims were exposed to debilitating gas, and were taken either to the hospital or the morgue…

One must have a one and a half bend in his head to say things like this, and another a one and a half to listen to such “prophecy.”  Despite this, there are still people who listen to them!  It is even show on TV…

In some Moscow newspapers you can see all that spiritual stupidity: fortune tellers, wizards, casting spells – people bowing down to darkness!

I don’t blame them, dear friends, I feel sorry for them. They see nothing except darkness. Or perhaps they see too little light, and because of that they go to the deceivers. They will continue to go until the light will be fired up.

Dear Church, all Orthodox and Protestants, hear what I’m saying, please!

In my heart and mind there’s a big, tremendous, “Why?”   I don’t say this with a critical and blaming spirit.

Maybe the reason isn’t that the church has only a few holy people, but because the question of light in the State is still not answered by many Christians.

Perhaps, old offences don’t let the sound mind to ripe?

I challenge you, and insist in serious prayer that we realize our place not only in the church, but also in the State.

The Bible says: “You are the light of this world.”

The world isn’t the Church.  It’s not about one church group, or about the church limits, it’s all about the society in which we live.

Why was the state of Israel so strong in the time of Elisha?

All because there was a man of God who didn’t let the wicked plans of enemies become true across Israel.

Someone can object, “Perhaps, terrorist attacks in America or our country is punishment from God.”

Well, to some extent I agree.

Read the history of Israel. After the death of Solomon, during his son’s reign, the state was divided into two kingdoms, North and South, Judah and Israel.

The Kingdom of Israel wasn’t righteous at all. They sinned unrestrainedly. Despite this, God was helping Israel through the prophet Elisha, warning his king about the plans of the enemy. Though Israel wasn’t in the right condition, God helped her, and that was the reason why this state avoided many serious difficulties.

To assert that our country is moving in its own wrong ways- and that we should continue on like that is to insult God who said good things about our country.

Dear friends, the Church has been given the task to be the salt of this earth.  That means the morality and virtue inherent in a believer should be seen in his life, and exert a powerful influence on surrounding people.

The Church is the light of the world. Why then, do the majority of Christians all over the world live only by the world’s standards?

It’s hard for them to think about the prosperity of an organization or a company where they work if it has some hardships.  But if a Christian is the light, why not then does this light reveal opportunities for politics, economics, business, and the needs of the city which will serve for its positive development?

The function of light is to brighten everything around.

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

God insists that the spiritual and any other intelligence of a believer should become the property not only in the narrow circle of church people, but the whole society.

Dear Church, God persists that the limits of our ministry in this world spread.

It’s not that the Church should dictate the conditions to the State, no. God doesn’t allow the Church to do that.

But He insists that the light would brighten everything. That in this light, people could really see light. As a holy writer said, “In Your light we see light.”

Christ asserted that, “Those who walk by day, that is, in light don’t stumble.”

Today many people “stumble” in dealing with city, republic, Russian, and world issues, because the world doesn’t think it is necessary to listen to the Church’s opinion.

Often, though, the world has its reasons not to do that.  We need to give the world those reasons where it must listen to the opinion of the Church. We have such a privilege.

My dear Church, we have the task to be the salt of this earth, to stop the process of decay from destroying our world and the country where we live and labor.

At the same time, the Church is the light of this earth.  A light so that the people will not wander in darkness, so that many questions concerning not only the Christian life, but also education, economics, morality and many others would be solved in the best way.  Oh, that the world would experience a powerful influence of God’s clear light and His building love.

Light is light. May God help us!

Amen.