My mother once caught me climbing the side of my house naked as an 8 year old child. As a young child I believed everyone of us had super powers, but they lay dormant within us. In order to activate mine I began microwaving spiders to near death and then taunting them in order to get them to bite me.
I wanted to be Spiderman. He was my hero of choice.
After a few attempts I thought were successful I began climbing the sides of houses and nearby fences. As I continued to fall off these structures I came to the determination my clothes were hindering my Spidey abilities. This is when my mother received a call from our neighbors asking who the naked kid climbing the side of the house was.
So as I was studying this week, I remembered these stories and I remembered WHY I wanted to be a superhero. I wanted to be known. I wanted the fame and the recognition. I saw the way girls go stupid for heroes! I wanted to be in the spotlight. And I think that’s everyone of us at some level, right?
Andy Warhol once commented that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” With the invention of the internet and YouTube it’s a possibility, but I think we all think we get shammed right at 14:59 and so we constantly try to achieve that next step into superstardom.
Chasing the Dream
Look at everything we’re chasing after in this life. Heck, just on campus. A job, a degree, a girlfriend, boyfriend, potential spouse, our dreams, goals, aspirations, money, I mean, take your pick. And so we say, self, If I can just get these things then I’ll truly be happy. If I can just get this job, this girl, this guy. If I can make this salary then….yes then! I will be truly content! And the amazing thing is we’ll spend our entire life chasing these things and when we die we’ll have still accomplished NOTHING.
Honestly, how many of you can tell me your great-great grandfather’s name, what he did, and what his hobbies we’re?
About none of us.
And so what happens is we end up disengaging from those around us, make life about us, and forget the call to live missionally and impact those around us because we’re too busy thinking about ourselves instead of others.
In Matthew 5 Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
I often have read this verse and was like, “What does that mean? Am I pepper and not being salt?” But in Jesus’ time period salt was used as a preservative to keep meat from rotting or further rotting. The problem in Christian culture is that we want to stay salty in the cupboard. And if we DO end up engaging those around us, it’s about what we can get out of the relationship (fame, recognition, etc).
Rotting meat stinks. But Jesus calls us to be the salt that gets on the rotting meat and preserves it. If you’ve ever discipled someone you’ll know it’s a messy, messy process. There’s not a lot of fame and recognition in it. But this world is a rotting slab and Christ calls us to live differently. To get on the rotting meat and preserve it.
I hear so much opposition to this mentality because everyone is content being lights among other lamps instead of engaging a dark and broken world. Jesus said it best, in order to be a light you have to shine among dark places. But most of us have made such a concerted effort to stay separated from a rotting world we scarcely speak their language anymore.
I plead with my students all the time to go to the parties on campus and be salt and light, to not disengage culture but to ENGAGE it, and in the end find messy people that don’t look like them or be about what they can get out of the relationship.
The more I read about how Jesus lived, the more I realize how I need to stay desperately salty. My prayer then, is that we engage our campuses and stay desperately salty and a light that can be seen from the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
Ben Sledge is the college pastor for Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. He can be found blogging for heartsupport.com and speaking on behalf of XXXChurch Ministries. Ben is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He is most passionate about Jesus, his wife, art, tattoos, and Texas BBQ (in that order).