Monday, March 28, 2011

You ARE the Salt, You ARE the Light

Good Monday everyone!  I am glad to be back among society putting my bad cold behind me through the miracle of healing provided by Jesus Christ.  This week we will be back in the Sermon on the Mount and so without any delay, here is today's subject.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV
I have posted on this before, but today we are doing so in light of the Sermon.  Jesus first described the Christian through the Beatitudes, now He is going to tell us just what a Christian is and how Christians should live their lives.  Notice that salvation is already achieved, now it is about living in light of that salvation.  Too many preachers today speak of everything in terms of salvation.  I know my salvation is secure as should every other believer, but there is a separate judgment for believers where are works are evaluated.  This judgment does not decide whether or not we are saved (you would not make it to this judgment if you were not saved), but it does determine your rewards and status in the Kingdom of God.  Being that everything spoken of from now on is in light of being a child of God, we know that living these directions are possible for all of us as we submit ourselves to God.  We know that because we do not live our lives any longer in our own strength or in relying upon our own righteousness, but we live in the power and righteousness of God. 

Note the first part of this text.  "You are the salt of the earth."  Jesus does not tell us that we should act light the salt of the earth.  He does not command us to be the salt of the earth.  He tells us that by virtue of being a Christian, we are the salt of the earth.  That is who you are in  Christ.  You do not to strive to be that salt.  You do not have to do great works to be the salt. You simple are the salt.  What you do what that status is up to you. 

So what is salt?  Salt is used as a flavoring and as a preservative.  It was used more in Jesus' time as a preservative as they did not have the hot fill vacuum sealed cans that we have today.  They also had no refrigeration.  If you wanted to preserve food, you had to salt it.  We still use salting today as I am sure many of us had salt cured meats or anything pickled.  How we are the salt as Christians is in that we preserve the righteousness of God in a world going to Hell.  Society seems to get worse and worse and our entertainment is proof positive of that fact.  What was once considered unthinkable for broadcast radio or television is now considered commonplace and mild.  Children are being taught more and more to disrespect their parents.  Public schools are being training grounds for sin and worldliness.  The world, as it is, is an offense to God and it is us Christians who are called not to conform to the world but to be as salt preserving the morality of God in this world.  The world tells us we need to change with the times, that our morality no longer applies to the world as it is today. God tells us differently, we are to preserve those values and be an example of those values. 

Salt is also used as a flavoring.  More accurately, salt brings out other flavors.  Salt does have a flavor for sure and it does add its own flavor to just about every food we enjoy, but chefs will tell you that salt is best when used as an accent to help bring out other flavors.  Much like our preservative value as Christians, we express our saltiness by living those values taught to us by Jesus Christ.  We are living examples of the goodness of God in a lost and dying world.  If not for us and our witness and lives, the world would be empty of any goodness.  Just a salt brings out the flavor of almost any food, we bring out the "flavor" of lives changed by the blood of Christ.  We bring out the joy and life-changing power of the Lord by living in His strength and under His direction. 

Jesus next gives us a warning "but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."  How can we, who are called the salt of the earth, lose our flavor and effectiveness?  Simply by not acting like the salt we are.  It should make no sense.  Salt is known scientifically as sodium chloride.  As long as it is sodium chloride, it will still have its same properties.  It can only lose its properties if it is no longer sodium chloride, then it is no longer salt.  What all that means is that as long as salt is salt, salt will act as salt.  It is impossible for salt to not be salty.  Just as unthinkable it is for salt to not the salty, it should be unthinkable for a Christian to not be the salt of the earth.  The Lord declares that we are the salt and nothing should be able to change that.  Ah but there is that one thing we have that salt does not have.  We have free will and as long as we do not deny ourselves, we can make ourselves unsalty by our actions.  If we conform ourselves to the world and do not express the righteousness of God in us, we are not being the salt that we are.  We lose our saltiness, that is we lose our witness.  When we lose our witness, we become worthless to God's work on earth.  Think about it, how can you preach the righteousness of Christ if you live just as bad as any other sinner?  How can you share the joy of the Lord if there is no joy in your life?  How can you teach the life-changing effects of the Holy Spirit in you if there is no difference in how you live your life from either before you came to the Lord or from anyone else in the world.  How can you share with others how real Jesus is if there is no evidence of Him in your life.  If you do not live as the salt you are, you become worthless to God's work in the world.

Next Jesus tells us "You are the light of the world."  Again, Jesus tells us this is what we are by virtue of being a Christian.  We do not choose to be a light, we automatically are when we come to Jesus.  We can not change that we are lights.  It is just who we are.  What does light do?  Light kills darkness.  Actually, light does away with darkness.  If you go into a dark room and turn on a light, the room is light.  You can not add darkness to a room once it is lit up.  Darkness is merely the absence of light and that is what the world is without Jesus.  We are the light of God giving light to a dark world.  We are called to light those dark places with the love of God.  We are to give light to the world of unrighteousness by expressing the righteousness of God in us.  We are to give light to the lies told by the world with the truth of the Gospel.  Just as darkness can not overcome light, unrighteousness and lies can never overcome the light of God's truth of the gospel.

Jesus then follows with another warning. "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."  Basically what Jesus is saying is that it is hard to hide a light.  A city on a hill at night can be seen from miles around because of the light it puts out.  Jesus is also saying that it is silly to hide a light.  Why would you have a light if you were just going to cover it.  Jesus is not talking about lampshades that temper the lights we have in our homes, but about completely covering it up.  If you have a light, you generally have it in a prominent place to maximize its output.  If you did not want light, you would not have a lamp.  You would not light a lamp then cover it.  Just like that, as lights of the world, why would we cover that light?  The only way our light will not shine in the darkness of the world is if we cover it.  The world can not cover it (as in the city on the hill) and we should not cover it (as in putting a basket over it).  No, we are lights in order to light the world.  God would not have made us lights if we were not to light the world. 

Jesus continues "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  We must give glory to God with our lives so that the world may glorify God through our works.  We must live as though we are lights that is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.  We must not be ashamed of that light and try and cover it but let it shine.  The world may cover its eyes. The world may try and shrink away into the darkness it loves, but if we all continue to shine our lights before men, those dark corners to hide in will become smaller and smaller.  The light we shine allows others to see the truth of God and the Gospel.  The light we shine exposes the unrighteousness of others.  The light we shine allows the world to see God working in our lives.  We must live that light before men or men will continue to take comfort in darkness. 

We are the light and salt of the earth.  That is not a command or a calling, but a definition of who we are in Christ.  If you are a Christian, you are the light and the salt of the earth.  It is not something you need to pray and strive to be, but what you are already in Christ.  Our job is to just be who we are.  That is the amazing simplicity of this message.  It is just being who we are in Christ.  When we are out in the world, we are the salt.  It is when we purposely conform to the world that we lose our saltiness.  When we are out in the world, we are the light that shines in the darkness.  It is only us that strives to cover that light.  Brothers and sisters, just be who Christ made you to be.  It really is that simple.  
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2 NKJV  

1 comment:

  1. We ARE salt and light! Wow, how did I miss that word?!?

    "That is not a command or a calling, but a definition of who we are in Christ." Love this!