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Keep the Faith: 'I don’t think we are doing a good enough job.'

Aug 06, 2023Aug 06, 2023

Jesus told his followers, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (Matthew 5:13) Salt is a natural preservative to help with the problem of decay. The church is supposed be salt for the nation. A remedy for moral decay.

The Christian Church seems fractured in its application of the gospel. Some churches focus on the proclamation of the gospel well enough, but don't seem to have much of a social outreach. Some churches pursue social justice well enough but don't seem overly concerned with the proclamation of the gospel. It's a tough balance to maintain.

Serving in The Salvation Army puts us in close contact with the homeless. Our shelters can be full, but our churches have few in attendance. The needs of humanity are overwhelming.

A woman I’ll call Suzie used to sit on the back step of our building. I sat on that step with her one day, and she decided to get help for her drinking, but she left the detox program after five days. Later, she met someone with a drug problem. They got high together, and she died of an overdose, then he died a few days later.

On one occasion, we were visited by a friend whom I greeted with a hug. Suddenly, I heard someone yell from down the street. "Hey, can I have a hug too?" Then this young woman came and stood in front of me. I hugged her.

"Will you pray for me?" she said. She looked like she was wanted to cry for a moment. "Of course, I’ll pray for you," I said.

Sometime later, she came in the office one day, she was high, yelling and swearing at the staff. She dropped herself down on the ground. She spoke about wanting to see her children. She bemoaned her life. A few minutes later she composed herself and apologized to everyone in the office. "Don't be afraid of me," she said to them. Then she looked at me. "You’re not afraid of me, are you?"

"No, I’m not afraid of you," I said.

"That's my guy," she said, patting my cheek with her hand. Then she walked out of the office. That was the last time I saw her. A few weeks later she was found dead.

Jesus’ call to the church to be a light to the world and declaring us the salt of the earth means something. I’m not sure how seriously we are taking our role? I don't think we are doing a good enough job.

I’m not saying the church doesn't care or that we don't pray, but I’m not sure how deeply we care or how maturely we are praying. Maybe our broken-down church services, fumbling prayer meetings and homeless meals are better than nothing, but it feels like a drop in the bucket.

What does Jesus expect from the church when he says we are the salt of the earth? I heard someone say once that salt makes you thirsty and the church ought to make the world thirsty for Jesus. Am I making the world thirsty for Jesus? Is the church being what Jesus is asking it to be?

Major Paul Pelletier is the Commanding Officer of the Worcester Salvation Army.