The Salt of the Earth

What a memorial service to honor a friend reminded me about our role in this world.

Ken Denslow, Lake Union Herald, and Adventist Review
The Salt of the Earth
[Photo: Pornyot Palilai]

Something unusual happened at the memorial service of my friend, Daniel Honore, in February 2023. When he died, Honore was the newly elected president of the Minnesota Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But before his untimely death, he had served for many years as the president of the Northeastern Conference based in New York City.

The “unusual” thing is that Bill de Blasio, former mayor of New York City, and Hakeem Jeffries, minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, were both in attendance and eulogized Pastor Honore. Now, you may say that these were just political stops for them, but that didn’t seem at all to be the case. They both spoke in highly personal terms about their friend Daniel. They knew him. They told stories about time they had spent together.

De Blasio in particular shared that most of what he had known about Seventh-day Adventists he had “learned” from our critics. It wasn’t until he became friends with Daniel Honore that he came to understand who we are as a people. He hasn’t become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but he has become a friend of the church.

Over the years, some issues of the Lake Union Herald magazine have been focused on public affairs and religious liberty, but usually it is the religious liberty part that is highlighted. But here I would like to emphasize the public affairs part — the part that Honore understood and practiced.

Orlan Johnson, director of the North American Division Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) department, is fond of saying, “As Adventists, we should be making friends before we need them.” Certainly, that is part of the PARL mission. But there is a bigger reason. Jesus Himself calls us to be salt in our world — that is, to bring out flavor in our society. We can only do that as we get stirred up and get stirred into involvement in our communities.

By God’s grace, I believe we can engage in our communities and become Christ’s salt in the issues of our society that demand biblical and Christian engagement. Go out and be salt! Jesus said,

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, NIV).

The original version of this commentary was posted by Lake Union Herald. Ken Denslow is president of the Lake Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Ken Denslow, Lake Union Herald, and Adventist Review