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Salt & Light

Salt & Light!

Matthew 5:13-20

Last week we looked at the Beatitudes... and Jesus’ call to us, his disciples, to be a humble, community of deliverance.

Jesus expects us to be different... changed... transformed... thru our relationship with him, that begins with repentance.

Of course, the first thing Jesus said as he began his public ministry (as we talked about two weeks ago) was “Repent” - and after repentance... he began his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed” (or Fortunate or Rich) are those who live a life or repentance: the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, those persecuted: the humble.

Then he made it all personal... blessed are YOU when you’re persecuted, and reviled... on account of me.

Today: Jesus continues that personal emphasis: saying, "You are the salt of the earth."

I like salty food... how about you? Salted Caramel! Two words that describe heaven if it were a taste!

Salt adds flavor... it enhances our ability to enjoy foods... making the bland, vibrant! So, here Jesus is saying that as Christians... part of our calling is to add flavor to life! To add vibrancy to living.

Salt is also an essential element... we need it! So to say, “You are the salt of the earth” is to say your presence is essential... right?

But there’s more going on here than just spicing up life! Jesus and his disciple may have thought of the flavoring aspect of salt... but I’m sure it wasn’t their first thought.

The fact is: in Jesus' day, they didn't have all the different ways of preserving food that we have today. And one of the major sources of protein in Israel was fish. Most of the fish that I have in my house is either frozen or canned. Back in Jesus' day they didn't have freezers or, to my knowledge, canning. They used salt to preserve their fish. And the salt preserved the fish by drawing out moisture & killing bacteria.

So Jesus and his followers probably thought about the preservation qualities of salt. Jesus is saying that it is our job to preserve the world.

Which is an idea that’s actually replete in the scripture: thru Noah, God preserved creation; thru Moses, God preserved the Hebrews. Through David, God preserved the nation of Israel.

It’s our job... our calling... to offer our world the ultimate preservative! The only preservative unto eternal life; Jesus. (Not my words, God’s Word).

But it’s more than just preserving. Here is where the flavor comes in. When someone, when anyone... puts their faith in Christ, they’re not only cleansed and preserved for eternal life; they are also given an eternal quality of life - making our presence essential.

Jesus flavors up life, with joy, peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, gentleness, humility, self-control. And all those flavors, kinda act like preservatives, too!

So like salt, you and I are called to be essential elements of preservation, instruments of enhancement. We play a role in salvation! We don’t save, only Christ does that... but it’s God’s will that his people, who are called by his name, play a role... by being the “salt of the earth!”

But then, Jesus warns: "if the salt has lost its taste how can its saltiness be restored?" While it may be hard for us to imagine, salt can lose its taste. I mean... salt is salt. It’s mineral. It’s always salty, right?

Think about it: if salt doesn’t do it’s job, it’s useless. If it says in the shaker, it can’t flavor food.

Jesus was saying “You have a purpose!” You are the salt of the earth... you were created to live your purpose! You are meant to bring life, to life, by living out your purpose! You and I are called to be a holy people, set apart to live as God’s People... and adding dimension, and depth, and vibrancy to life, while presenting (while pointing to) the One who preserves life... not only to our church, and family, and friends: but to everyone we meet! And if we fail to do that: if we fail to flavor and preserve life, we’re not living into our calling as followers of Christ.

Jesus then says, "You are the light of the world." Many people, myself included, look at this and think it is saying the same thing as verse 13. And it is close, but there is more emphasis here on doing.

Jesus says that you don't light a candle to cover it up but to place it high so that many can see. In the book of Revelation the churches are symbolized as lamp stands. The church holds up the light of Christ just as a lamp stand holds up a lamp. Some people use a lighthouse as a symbol or metaphor for the church. The purpose of the lighthouse is to shine a light in the darkness so that ships don't hit a reef or rocky shore.

Jesus says that like a lamp we’re to let our light shine in the darkness. Why? In order that those who see our good works may glorify God, that’s why.

Jesus is not talking about showing off, or being self-righteous here. Remember: we’re called to be a humble community of deliverance! Jesus wants us to offer true acts of love and mercy and justice. As Christians, we should live so that others see what we do and give glory to God.

And to stress the point... Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have not come to abolish but fulfill." Jesus was perfectly clear, that even though he was teaching a new way - he wasn’t throwing the old out? What Jesus taught (and is teaching) is a more complete way, but in no way does it contradict or countermand God’s Law. It fulfills it.

The scribes and Pharisees were quick to talk about the Law, and SLOW to live it. That’s why he said that his followers should have a righteousness that far exceeds that of the Pharisees. Maybe some thought Jesus was offering people an easy way out. Jesus said, “Think again... this is no easy way out. You don't have to live like the Pharisees. You have to live better." And the ONLY way we could ever hope to do that... its to lean fully of Christ: the Way, the Truth, and the Live...

You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.

Lord, help us to be nothing less.


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