Live the Story in Nashville
Nashville means … my neighbor, your neighbor, my wife, my children, a friend, a stranger, students, musicians, artists, designers, engineers, retail clerks, baristas, parents, and construction workers; people who skate, waterski, do cross-stitch, play in rock bands and read mystery novels; those who have an intimate relationship with God, others who desire to know Him better, and still others who don’t know Him at all. What does it mean to live the story in Nashville and in today’s diverse world?
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus teaches,
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
The words “earth” and “world” clearly refer to the “people” of Matthew 5:16. By calling his followers to be salt and light, Jesus discloses his desire for engaging with humanity — being in the world but not of it. We are to be connected with and personally involved with all people.
Living the story of God means engaging in life with a sense of INVOLVEMENT, not ISOLATION.
Just as salt is useless unless it is in contact with food and just as a lantern is useless unless it is in the presence of darkness, so we are useless to Jesus’ mission unless we are in regular, personal contact with a diverse group of people.
Not only are we to be in the world but also, as followers of Jesus, we are to be distinct. Salt does not add flavor by becoming un-salty; light cannot illuminate darkness by covering itself.
Thus, living the story is doing so with DISTINCTIVENESS, not ACCOMMODATION.
John R. W. Stott states,
When society does go bad, we Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach the non-Christian world; but should we not reproach ourselves? One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad. It cannot do anything else. The real question to ask is: where is the salt?
See what Jesus calls this in John 17:15-19:
I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.
The best way for light to shine out of a church is for its members to be transformed by the gospel and live the story in all of life, whether working as a businessperson in the economic domain of our society, working in the educational or political domain of our society, or working in the arts.
Let your light shine.
For more on living the story and City Reach Nashville, please connect with us.
City Reach Strategist
Nashville Baptist Association
* Thanks to Pastor Matt Chandler, J.D.Greear, Gary Delashmutt and Aarron Schwartz for insight and wisdom into Matthew 5 and living the story.
** All Scripture quotations are taken from the HCSB®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. HCSB® is a federally registered trademark of Holman Bible Publishers.