“And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6 HCSB).
In addition to human government as a restraining force against evil, we can say that the influence of those who genuinely follow Jesus also serves to restrict the impact of evil in the world. While objectors may be quick to identify various injustices that have been committed in the name of Christ, it’s important to measure those who claim to follow Jesus against His teachings and not the other way around.
For instance, consider the restraint upon evil that would result if everyone enacted the following portion of Jesus’ teaching from the Beatitudes…
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Jesus also referred to His followers as “…the salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13. While salt is a relatively common element, it possesses properties that serve as an excellent illustration for 2 Thessalonians 2:6. For instance, salt is commonly known as a seasoning agent. In other words, salt often makes food taste better than it might ordinarily taste alone.
The New Testament book of Colossians utilizes this attribute as an illustration when it tells us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). The idea is that our interactions with others should be tasteful just as salt makes food more tasteful.
Salt is also valuable for use as a preservative. In the days before refrigeration, salt was regularly used as a preservative to keep food from spoiling and is still used for that purpose today. In a spiritual sense, we can say that Jesus (and those who genuinely represent Him) serve as a kind of preservative influence upon others. Without the preserving influence of Christ and His people in pursuing that which is good, the world would quickly become as spoiled and corrupt as food that hadn’t been salted or refrigerated.
Therefore, as Jesus says, “…Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50) thus allowing His influence to season our thoughts, words, actions, and relationships with others.