When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.
These verses speak of the immense social asset that collective righteousness can be in a community. Public life is always the better of a thriving spiritual community in its midst. Even if a city does not have much time for what the spiritual community believes in and holds dear, it will benefit by it. This is supported by our Lord's own words 'Ye are the salt of the earth'. The Church has a twofold function - to be salt and light, light in terms of active evangelism, winning men to Christ, salt in terms of restraining corruption. This is something we tend to forget; we should be far more positive in our thinking about these things than we sometimes are. The simple truth is that the very existence of a thriving spiritual witness, apart altogether from the impact that that witness may make on individuals, drawing them into the kingdom of God, can have transforming effects on the body politic. It is known, as a matter of history, that times of spiritual awakening have brought immense social benefits even on a national scale. The revival movement of the mid-nineteenth century brought in its train many of the most important and far-reaching philanthropic and social agencies for the betterment of human conditions that have enriched British life. The civic mottoes of Glasgow and Edinburgh 'Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word’ and 'Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it' - bear witness to the truth of these verses: where there is a living ministry of the Word in any city, it is going to preserve that city from the worse forms of corruption, aside from any direct influence that Christian testimony and preaching may have upon individuals. We must never underestimate this, it is part of our function as the Church. It does not mean getting involved in city politics as a Church (that is the duty of individual Christians). It is when the Church is intent on being the Church, not a political agency, with gospel involvement, not political involvement its aim, that it exercises a leavening power in society.