“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 underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
On July 26, 1833, the British Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade. The great victory came more than 45 years after William Wilberforce first met the great Hannah More.
A few days later, Wilberforce died. A few weeks after that, More joined her friend in glory—a poetic end to the lives of the great poet and parliamentarian.
A few years after More’s death, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote a now-famous essay titled A Defence of Poetry. In it, he credited Christian writers and artists such as More with ending slavery and emancipating women, saying “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”
Tomorrow is Election Day in the U.S., and I pray you will vote. But whoever you vote for, I hope you will remember this: Culture wars will never be won solely through the election of the “right candidates” or their appointment of the “right judges.” Hannah More and William Wilberforce show us that “the only way to change culture is to create more of it.” So sure, vote for the change you believe God has called the Church to advocate for in the world. But if you really care, don’t just vote. Roll up your sleeves and create for change. Because that is how change happens.
In the words of More herself, “I hope the poets and painters will at last bring the Bible into fashion and that people will get to like it from taste, though they are insensible to its spirits, and afraid of its doctrines.”
“People will get to like it from taste.”
Sounds a lot like Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.
Paul says that the gospel and the ways of our Redeemer are “foolishness” to the world (see 1 Corinthians 1:18). But through our work, we can be salt making the world want a taste of the Kingdom.
But Jordan, I’m not a poet. How does this apply to me?
We’re all called to work and create as a means of extending the Kingdom. Remember Jesus’s parting words to his disciples recorded in Acts 1:8: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
All of us are his “witnesses.” Witnesses to what? His resurrection and corresponding lordship of the world. The whole world is—present tense—under His authority. We are witnesses to that truth, called to take the message of His kingship “to the ends of the earth.”
You may not create a poem that convinces a generation of women to choose life for their unplanned children, but can you and your family create space in your family or budget to care for orphans?
If you’re an entrepreneur, can you create products that replace deceptive or harmful ones in your industry?
If you’re an employee, can you work in a way that is so humble, so life-giving, so exceptional that your co-workers will “get to like” Jesus and His gospel from their interactions with you?
Poets, writers, artists, and musicians: Can you use the power of the Creator God in you to tell stories of truth, redemption, and hope?
By all means, vote for change. But may we be people who do the much harder, much more impactful work of creating for change for the Kingdom.