AGENTS OF CHANGE
Change is seldom easy, and Jesus knew this. While addressing the cost of being a true disciple, He shared an illustration about salt. "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Lk. 14:34). Jesus knew that the changes that were needed
could not be legislated. He sought to
develop a new kind of disciple to help pave the way. They were to become agents of change. He worked to set into action a new set of
values and for this to happen He needed to prepare the disciples for a new way
of thinking and living. He led the way. The challenge of
values continues today. This issue of the Dynamic
Steward is about “Stewards of Influence” and salt is an
insightful metaphor for agents of change.
The verses leading
to the salt illustration make it clear that Jesus sought to influence, and
bring about a change, in the values cherished by the disciples. Later their own words indicated that He had
been successful when they admitted that they had something more valuable than
“silver and gold” to offer (Acts 3:6). Their encounter with Jesus changed their orientation, their
priorities and, certainly, their worldview. The context of the salt
illustration was all about being willing to sacrifice, but it hardly seemed
sacrificial to them now. They had learned the same values that helped
Christ withstand His wilderness temptations (Lk. 4). Power, recognition,
success and comfort were not the decision-makers for Him. Jesus made it clear that there were only two
things that really mattered in His life—God and people. He was willing to endure hardships so that
God and people might be honored, even if it created a disadvantage for
Himself. He came as a servant for both,
and this put Him at odds with the Pharisees in at least three ways.
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?"
First, while the
Pharisees focused on oral traditions regarding purification, Jesus focused on
the “more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Mt.
23:23). Secondly, though Jesus was
active in Sabbath services, religious activity was no substitute for
demonstrating that everyone is someone to God, regardless of how society or
culture might see them. A third
distinctive value that was evident in the life of Jesus was that, by coming to
Him, all would be treated like royalty.
He treated everyone who was willing to listen, as if they had untapped
potential. Despite His holiness, sinners
of all types were drawn to Him.
The influence of
Jesus changed lives and gave hope, not only to those in His generation, but to
ours as well. Being fashioned by Jesus
into His image is radical. Without this departure from conventional values, the Pharisees
were not only without personal peace, but also without a message to share.
Jesus sought to change this, and to do so, He called and prepared
a corps of disciples to become agents of change. Salt does very little in isolation. Salt serves, salt enhances, salt preserves
but salt’s purpose is always found in relationship with something or
someone. Influence comes not from a
desire to be “influential” but from what one is and is becoming. Biblical stewards become stewards of
influence because two things matter to them:
God and people. It is then that
salt becomes flavourful.