A quick, kinda snarky post

I’ve heard the sentiment from various quarters that living in the city is bad for Christians, because of all the corruption.

My reply: Christians are supposed to be the salt of the earth, right? That’s salt as a preservative, which prevents rotting. In other words, we’re supposed to be around corruption. It’s part of our job.

11 responses to “A quick, kinda snarky post

  • C. J. Summers

    “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” — Jer. 29:7

  • dlr

    Hmmm, lemme see… oh, thank goodness, no corruption out here in the country, I can go back to sleep now.


  • Barb

    I still recall a story a friend told many years ago. He worked at a Nursing Home and part of his job was to go to the welfare office to handle paperwork for some of the clients (this was pre-internet). He was standing in line with all the “real” welfare clients and he was telling people he was there for “other people” when it hit him….these were the people Jesus hung out with.

  • Chris

    I would not be one to argue that the city is off limits, certainly not, for cities do have their good and right places, but I do have a question.

    Salt is for preserving things not yet rotted/corrupted, right? I mean, you don’t just shake salt over bad meat and it becomes edible. I guess my question is how this interpretation of the verse works out if the thing subjected to salt is already rotten.

  • Seth Ben-Ezra


    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. There’s plenty enough corruption to go around. We can share!

  • Seth Ben-Ezra


    I had a reply for you. It was amazing! It was witty and insightful and helpful and all those good things. And then….

    Blackberry fail.

    So, um, I’ll reply later.

  • Crystal Ben-Ezra

    So I’m looking around. All around me are empty eyes, filled with pain and sorrow. They are desperately searching for meaning and life and comfort.

    They drink away their sorrows, they snort away their pain and yet they find at the end of the night, it crawls into bed with them and haunts their dreams.

    And Jesus tells us to go these broken people and show them that there is One who came to take away that emptiness and fill it. To take away their sorrow and turn their tears of pain into tears of joy.

    And I look around again to see who will go with me to bring the joy of Jesus Christ to these lost and hungry people.


  • Seth Ben-Ezra


    Sadly, my incredibly awesome response is already fading from my mind. So, you’ll have to be content with this one instead.

    First, I will cite total depravity. By definition, everything is already corrupt, right? Because everything is stained with sin. This is true of people, of nature, of human institutions, of everything.

    Therefore, when Jesus talks about our being the salt of the earth, He isn’t referring to our being a conserving force for “good”. This makes no sense. Everything is already rotten.

    But isn’t that the beginning of the good news? Everything is rotten and corrupted, but Jesus has come to restore and to heal. He is the Great Physician, come for the sick. He is the Good Shepherd, come to save His lost sheep. He is the Light of the world, come to shine in darkness.

    Chris, under your question I think I hear another question. “Is something ever too far gone to be saved?” You know, it’s too sick, it’s too lost, it’s too dark, it’s too rotten. But how can that be? Is the arm of the Lord too short?

    And this gets to the heart of my concern. This isn’t about city vs. country. Holy men and women of God live in the country, doing His will and praising His name. Just like there are holy men and women of God in the city, doing His will and praising His name. (I’ve even heard rumors of holy men and women of God in the suburbs, but I’m not sure I believe them. πŸ˜‰ )

    No, my concern is about separatism. My concern is with Christians who have decided that pursuing personal holiness means hiding from “bad stuff” and, therefore, hiding from “bad” people. Because, yeah, if you’re around bad people, you’ll need to deal with their badness. They won’t talk the right way, they won’t dress the right way, they won’t believe the right way, they won’t act the right way. Sometimes this will be obvious, like the young women who walk by my house who are dressed like little tramps or the woman at the well (John 4). Sometimes this will be more subtle, like the squeaky clean Mormons who showed up one day and wanted to talk about Jesus or the Pharisees who thought they could earn their way to Heaven by being “good”. It’s all bad. It’s all corruption. And it will get all over you if you reach out to engage it.

    But that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t hold Himself aloof from the dirty sinners that infested the world that He had made. Instead, He came down to live with us, submerged in our corruption, so that He could make us clean. He did this by being the Light of the world, shining in darkness. And then, as His people came to Him, crawling out of the muck and mud of sin, He made us the light of the world, shining with Him against the darkness so that others could see the way to Him. Isn’t that beautiful?

    And Jesus didn’t think that there was someplace too dark to be lit or someone too sick to be cured. So why should we?

    So, wherever you live, whoever you are, if you belong to Jesus, then obey His word: “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.” (Matthew 5:16) If you live in the city, then shine your light in the city. If you live in the country, then shine your light in the country. If you live in the ‘burbs, then shine your light in the ‘burbs. Reach out to the lost and hurting who are near you, and tell them that Jesus heals them. Reach out to the filthy who are near you, and tell them that Jesus cleans them. Reach out and touch the unclean (Matthew 8:3), and you will be like your Father in Heaven, Who reached out to you.

  • jon sauder

    Funny, we were just studying John 17 tonight at church and talking about this exact topic. The teacher had a great illustration about being ‘in the world, but not of the world’:

    The church is like a boat.

    The world is like the water surrounding the boat. The boat was MADE to be in the water. That’s what God had in mind when he created ‘the boat’. It would be pointless for the boat to be sitting on dry land somewhere.

    We need to stand out in the world, but not be absorbed by it. I think the difference can be seen in motive. The world does things for their own good or survival. The Christian does (our should do) things for God’s glory.

    In short, we should be in the city, acting as salt and light, not separating ourselves from it.

  • Chris


    Thanks for the thorough answer, I appreciate it.

    In short, I agree with everything you put forward, and looking back I probably misphrased my question, but such are the follies of internet communication, eh? I hope I didn’t come across as a separatist, ’cause I don’t think of myself as one, I think that I’m mainly struggling with how we should deal with exposing ourselves to so much sin and yet not be affected by it. Your comment definitely brought some things up I hadn’t thought of.

    And as an aside, I can assure you the country is not devoid of corruption. It just comes in the form of illegal moonshine running and mailbox smashing… πŸ˜‰

  • Josh W

    On the subject of corruption, there are two trends I can see in Jesus’s teaching/life:
    Cut off everything that causes you to sin, and guard your eyes and your thoughts.

    but also

    It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, and he touched the unclean and made them clean.

    What’s my combination of these?

    There is a right way and a wrong way to engage with the world, and we should recognise our own weaknesses (like in the corinthian stuff about food offered to idols) and avoid them where appropriate. But on the other hand, as we mature in Christ, and allow ourselves to be changed by him more and more, we will find ourselves able to deal with stuff we couldn’t deal with before, and more amazingly, we can overflow that to other people (as a bad example, we can comfort others with the comfort we receive from God like in ephesians, I think the same applies to his sin destroying blessing).

    As background to this, there is the idea that certain stuff in the old temple would make things holy by association, and holy beats unclean. This is something that Jesus embodied, and allows us to be a temple of the holy spirit, spreading an infectious holyness that dedicates things to God.

    Ooh also, talking about cleanness and uncleanness reminds me of an interpretation I heard of washing each other’s feet: As you walk though the world, your bound to get a bit of it on you, but by the power of Jesus, we have the ability to help each other remove that effect, and complete someone’s cleanness. Practically that requires a lot of grace and humility on the part of the person doing it, seeing themselves as a servant and not an expert. I’m sure there is more to washing people’s feet than that, but that’s one part of it I remember well.

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