Our Dark Mofo campaign continues to stir debate – much of it from within the church. It appears some Christians are unsure about the appropriate way to publicly respond to such issues.
Do we have the right to be saying ‘no’ when we live in a godless secular society? Shouldn’t we ignore such things as Dark Mofo and get on with the real work of the gospel?
Jesus’ famous ‘sermon on the mount’ in Matthew 5-7 gives some very relevant guidance on this very subject.
Jesus begins by focusing on our hearts, detailing attitudes that should be seen in a heavenly kingdom disposition. There are seven. Jesus says we’ll be blessed to have them. Being poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry to do right, merciful, pure, makers of peace - I could spend lots of time unpacking them but I think their overall tenor is clear.
He then goes on to detail the blessing the world will give those who possess them:
Persecution! Being chased, insulted and having evil things said about you.
We should leap for joy! Why? Because of the great reward afforded and the identification with the prophets who were before you (v 12).
Then Jesus uses two common metaphors – salt and light – to explain the societal impact we, His followers, should have.
Salt in Jesus’ day was used to enhance and preserve food. Most commentators see this as a clear admonition to preserve the world from moral corruption – just as the prophets who were before you sought to do.
Similarly, as the light of the world we should, with God’s truth, provide direction and illumination for the benefit of others – just as the prophets who were before you did.
When we do this, even under persecution, we bring pleasure and glory to the Father.
These metaphors come with a warning though – they are conditional. We must not lose our saltiness nor hide our light. Meaning? We need to be watchful that we don’t shrink back from our call to challenge and change our environment.
Back to Dark Mofo, an event that even many unbelievers feel uncomfortable about.
I think we’d all agree, society left to its own will only grow darker and more corrupt.
So how do we effectively be salt and light like Jesus suggested? By being a bunch of negative, nay-saying kill-joys whose ‘call’ is to stop people doing what they want?
Acting without the seven kingly attributes would make this outcome very probable. Acting with them will probably be a mixture of both negative and positive responses – ‘have nothing to do with the fruitless works of darkness but rather expose them’ (Ephesians 5:11) and ‘overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21) I am excited to hear of more ‘light-shining’ activities planned for next year’s event. I am also excited by the hundreds of emails being sent (most from non-ACL supporters) to our political leaders saying, ‘enough’. The good works of light will likely be applauded and result in praise to our father in heaven. Our ‘salting’ of our community from corruption will likely result in persecution but will equally please God (and be rewarded).
None of us are a perfect reflection – yet it is possible to be ‘sons of our Father’ v45 – those who display the family likeness to others. The inward heavenly attributes have a practical outward face (a lot of what the rest of Jesus’ sermon is about) – and they, and we, challenge the world.
Part of reflecting then involves confrontation and persecution – identifying with the prophets who were before you as did Jesus and his followers. Not because we have a martyr complex but because we love our neighbour enough to say no to that which harms them.
‘If they hate you, keep in mind that they hated me first’ (John 15:18), says Jesus. And, ‘men will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.’ (John 3:20) Ask John the Baptist, Paul and Stephen – their ‘no’ meant death.
Here lies one of our biggest challenges – the challenge of courage. We, like the disciples, are sent out like ‘lambs among wolves’ (Luke 10:3).
You may have nodded all the way through this blog yet still do nothing. Why? Lack of courage.
This is where our reflecting of Jesus shows maturity and depth – ‘loving not our lives so much as to shrink from death.’ (Revelation 12:11)
We are as blessed to reflect the attributes of the king as we are blessed to be mistreated because of them, just like the prophets who were before you.
And yes, according to Jesus, being that prophetic voice is part of our gospel mandate.
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