“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:13, 14)
We live in a day when school boards can be encouraged to vet teacher candidates for their Christian faith like they would require a criminal background check lest those candidates bring menace into the school.
The reasoning goes that schools want to maintain an environment for noble ideological indoctrination and that inclusion of a Christian worldview runs counter to that effort. We wouldn’t want to give our children the idea that gender is determined at conception and displayed at birth as some sort of self-evident design by some deity and time-honored designation by scientific observation.
Such school boards are right to be concerned. Christians are definitely cultural influencers, as they have been since the days of the Roman Empire. Respect for all persons as image-bearers of God, love for all people regardless of station, and recognition of God’s design for the well-being of society all had monumental impact on culture.
The Lord Jesus urged His disciples to be salt and light. As such they would be pillars of truth and beacons of light in a world shrouded in the darkness of sin and given over to depravity, dissonance, and dystopian dehumanization. Their influence would slow decay and bring out the savor of God’s wisdom for the whole of mankind through the ages.
Jesus prays for the protection of His disciples as influencers. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-17).
Daniel serves as an example of an influencer. He fit in to the Babylonian culture without buying into that culture. He involved himself, contributed to the welfare of the State, and by the work of God rose to the upper echelon of political leadership. He genuinely loved Nebuchadnezzar and worked for his interests but also bore witness to him of the living and true God. Daniel retained his identity and role as one in the world but not of it.
School boards are right to think that bringing on board those who hold a Christian worldview will affect their mission. In service to Christ, believers will do their work as unto the Lord, out of love for those they teach, and seek to advance the welfare of the institution. Teachers competent in their subject matter and dedicated to their calling will bless those around them.
As influencers Christians want to infuse grace and truth and life into the lives of others in their spheres of influence, where God has providentially situated them for that purpose. Their influence is spread not by pedantic posturing or virtue signaling but by exhibiting integrity and the courage of faith that knows, trusts, and serves Jesus Christ. The light they radiate will not be able to be overcome by darkness but will shine in full-spectrum warmth with what is good and right and true to the glory of God and blessing of those around them.
(For more on the power and preservation of the influence of Christ’s disciples in this present age, see an exposition of Christ’s seven-fold letter to His church in Re: velation: Seeing Jesus-Seeing Self-Standing Firm.)