Salt and Light Living
"You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world." (Matt. 5:13-16)
Those are familiar words to us as they come from Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. But put yourself in the disciple's sandals for a moment or the crowds who had surrounded Jesus. Imagine being a Jew in the first century hearing these words. You have grown up under the power of the Roman Empire. You have not traveled very far from your home. You may be well-known among the people of your village but in the grand scheme of things you are unknown to the rest of the world.
Then you hear Jesus say, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world”. Jesus did not say, “You are the salt of Palestine or the salt of Capernaum, but you are the salt of the earth. With these simple words, Jesus laid out the vision of his kingdom. “Salt of the earth…light of the world,” – it is through you, my disciples, that the world will glorify God.
Amazing isn't it? At the same time, this is hard to believe for us as well. Those words find application in our lives too!
What Jesus is aiming at as he tells us we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world is that we have the capacity to influence the world around us. We all have influence! It isn't just those in leadership positions. We all exert influence for good or for ill. Throughout our lives, we will influence many people: our families, friends, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers. Our influence will impact all with whom we have contact.
Consider the two images Jesus gives to describe our influence: Salt & Light.
You are the salt of the earth (5:13). There were many ways that salt was used in the ancient world. It was used as a preservative for meat but perhaps what Jesus has in mind here is salt's ability to transform what it touches. It adds flavor and is easily identifiable in our food, isn't it? That is what Jesus is driving home that we can influence the lives of everyone we encounter by walking in a manner worthy of the gospel.
You are the light of the world (5:14). Light is intended to illuminate the darkness. That is our role as Christians to shine and illuminate the world by living for the Lord. The purpose is not to call attention to ourselves but to the God we serve.
Maybe you are reading this and wondering how can I be salt and light in this current crisis in our world? I am isolated in my home and I'm not encountering lots of people.
May I suggest this current crisis is an opportune time to be salt and light. Consider a few ways we can be an influence at this time in our lives.
You can influence your family. Before I ever attempt to be salt and light to the world, I first need to be salt and light in my own home. Could I suggest that this current crisis in our world provides an incredible opportunity to be an influence to our families.What will your children know of your devotion to God through these times? We have been unable to meet physically but this creates a unique opportunity to worship as a family in the confines of your home. It is in these times that our true devotion and commitment to God will be tested and seen by those closest to us. Let's not overlook this opportunity to be salt and light in our homes.
You can influence your friends. You have an opportunity to influence your peers, classmates, co-workers, and friends in at least two ways. First, you can check up on them which reveals your concern for them and secondly, you can invite them to study with us in our Sunday sermons and Wednesday night Bible classes. Again, this is a unique opportunity. Most people are hesitant to enter a church building with people they don't know very well but perhaps this crisis can open up a door for the word in a different way by inviting them to join a Bible study with us online and eventually inviting them to gather with us physically when we can do that again.
You can influence your neighborhood. It is as simple as "going the extra mile" to check on your neighbors and see how they are doing and by doing that you will show yourself to be salt and light as you point people to God who has loved them and cared for them in the greatest way possible.
I came across an old poem by an anonymous author that I will leave you with to contemplate this week.
My life shall touch a dozen lives
Before this day is done,
Leave countless marks of good or ill,
E’er sets the evening sun.
This, the wish I always wish,
The prayer I always pray;
Lord, may my life help others lives,
It touches by the way.