"You are the salt of the earth… . You are the light of the world… . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:13–16).
That text is often cited as if it were a mandate for the church to engage in political activism — lobbying, rallying voters, organizing protests, and harnessing the evangelical movement for political clout. I recently heard a well-known evangelical leader say, "We need to make our voices heard in the voting booth, or we're not being salt and light the way Jesus commanded."
That view is pervasive. Say the phrase “salt and light,” and the typical evangelical starts talking politics as if by Pavlovian reflex.
But look at Jesus' statement carefully in its context. He was not drumming up boycotts, protests, or a political campaign. He was calling His disciples to holy living.
The salt-and-light discourse is the culminating paragraph of the introduction to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It comes immediately after the Beatitudes. Jesus was pronouncing a formal blessing on the key traits of authentic godliness.
The world glorifies power and dominion...By contrast, Jesus blesses humility... —@Phil_Johnson_
What's most notable about the Beatitudes is that the qualities Jesus blesses are not the same attributes the world typically thinks are worthy of praise. The world glorifies power and dominion, force and physical strength, status and class. By contrast, Jesus blesses humility, meekness, mercy, mourning, purity of heart, and even persecution for righteousness’ sake. Collectively, these qualities are the polar opposite of political clout and partisan power.