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Sermon on the Mount -02- Salt and Light

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Matt.5:13-16

13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)

Intro.

Generic foods, generic drugs, generic products of all kinds. What’s the world coming to? There’s a general feeling that non-specific articles can be reasonable substitutes for the real thing. And to be honest some of the substitutes are as good, or nearly as good as their name brand equivalents.

And what about generic religion. 19th Century liberalism: the Worship of the Great Whatever. 20th Century New Age ideas: religion is simply a feeling of oneness with something: plants, rocks, the universe, a lotus flower, or just ourselves.

Religion seems to come to us these days in generic form. What’s more, we like it that way. We don’t want anyone’s religion to stand out. We want it all to blend in against a backdrop of “just more of the same.” Religious people who don’t follow our simple rule irritate us. Sometimes they even offend us. Freedom of speech is under greatest attack in our country, when the thing being spoken about is religion.

Against this backdrop Jesus says: “No more generic religion!” “Stand up and be counted!” “Be who you are!” “Come out of hiding!”

I. Being Salty in a Bland world.

   A.    Why Salt?

       1.    Salt gives Savor, Dissolves Ice, has Healing Properties, is necessary for health and Prevents Rot.

       2.    In the hot climate of Palestine salt is necessary for life.

   B.    Salt is useless when Diluted or Shelved

       1.    Useless when Diluted.

       2.    Useless when it stays in the shaker.

           a.    We need to be a place and a people where there’s a “Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on!”

   C.    We Are Salt

       1.    We don’t have to figure out how to become Salt - just how to stay salty.

       2.    Salt doesn’t have to come in big quantities or with industrial strength to work.

II.    Shining out the Truth in the Dark.

   A.    Why Light?

       1.    Light Shows the way, Exposes danger, Invites.

       2.    Light shows things for what they really are (ever eat in a dark restaurant?) - so is a metaphor for Truth.

       3.    Light is the physical source of life - and so is a metaphor for God.

           a.    In the Bible God’s presence is often associated with the presence of Light.

   B.    Light is supposed to be Noticed.

       1.    You don’t turn on a lamp and then stick a bucket over it so it doesn’t shine.

   C.    We Are Light.

       1.    We are the lamp, and God turned us on for a reason! We’re lamp posts on the road to God.

       2.    God didn’t flip the switch so we can go in hiding! He didn’t set us on a hill for us to be afraid of the kind of people we might attract!

III.   Openly Christian in a “Don’t Ask, don’t Tell” world.

   A.    Impact begins with Authenticity.

       1.    A Contagious Christian is one who has the disease.

       2.    Folks looking for the truth don’t want more of the same — they want to see what’s different about us because we’re Christians.

   B.    Salt is for the Unsalted.

       1.    You don’t need to put salt on Bacon. Why?

       2.    The whole point of being salt is to salt what hasn’t been salted!

   C.    Clear Communication sheds Light.

       1.    A lot of folks are confused about what we believe. Being light means being clear.

       2.    Lights that only come on on Sundays in church don’t help the folks lost in the dark the rest of the week!

The Bottom Line:

Let’s be true to our Identity in Christ and, in His Power, we’ll help people around us find God.

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