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Salt and Light

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class=MsoNormal align=center style='text-align:center'>Salt and LightRead: Mt 5:13-16

Looking back

Time in Jesus’ ministry when he looked back and commented on what had happened and what would happen.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Lk 22:28-30).

I want us to stop and look back and then look forward.

 ‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials.’

You have hung in there – sometimes heard things you would rather not – come back, listened. Work through relationships – sometimes battles – that was how it was with disciples. I wonder how many times they felt like quitting!

Last weekend people were in – not just the talks but whole thing that people experienced. Not just School Farm but what happens here on a Sunday morning. And it is more than just what happens here – it is about everything that has happened.

You have become the living demonstration of the truth of the gospel – and its ability to affect us deeply – to make a difference in the innermost parts.

Looking forward

And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Lk 22:28-30).

We can look forward

If we keep letting God do his work in our lives there is no limit to what he can do in and through us.

‘The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man.’ -D.L. Moody. Originally from a Mr Varley.

·         Another weekend.

·         Six next year

·         Plans to take them out

Not just weekends. (general)

·         The order in our families

·         the quality of who we are – the sheer beauty of our lives

·         our wisdom

·         our availability to make a difference

·         In our work

·         Our leisure

specific

·         visiting in Beech House

·         encouraging family

·         neighbour

·         sharing on a Sunday morning

·         making a phone call

·         smiling at someone

Put this into a biblical context

Mt 5:13

Salt

In the ancient world salt was highly valued. The Greeks called salt divine (theion). In a phrase, which in Latin is a kind of jingle, the Romans said, “There is nothing more useful than sun and salt.”

Salt, a valuable commodity in the dry Middle East, was used in the biblical period for barter. In fact the word “salary” comes from the Latin salarius (“salt”). A person lacking integrity might have mixed white sand with the salt and then had more for trade. But salt mixed with sand lost some of its salty quality and became useless.

A good title would be ‘the distinctiveness of the disciples.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9:50

Many uses of salt but Jesus gives us a clue here:

‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out.’ Luke 14:34-35

Soil

fertilizer – makes good things grow. In many places in the Middle East land is quite acidic. The only way this land could become productive was by spreading a little bit of salt on it. In this way the salt acted like a fertilizer and promoted life and growth.

Manure heap

Disinfectant – stops bad things from growing

Is it easy to be good in your company? Are people’s standards and attitudes lifted? Are they unlikely to tell you of their exploits the night before or of how they lied or cheated on someone else?

Is it easy for standards to be relaxed? Are they likely to tell that dirty story?

One of the things which this world needs more than anything else is people who are prepared to be foci of goodness.. Suppose there is a group of people, and suppose it is suggested that some questionable thing should be done. Unless someone makes his protest the thing will be done. But if someone rises and says, “I will not be a party to that,” another and another and another will rise to say, “Neither will I.” But, had they not been given the lead, they would have remained silent.

There are many people in this world who have not the moral strength and courage to take a stand by themselves, but if someone gives them a lead, they will follow; if they have someone strong enough to lean on, they will do the right thing. It is the Christian’s duty to take the stand which the weaker brother will support, to give the lead which those with less courage will follow. The world needs its guiding lights; there are people waiting and longing for a lead to take the stand and to do the thing which they do not dare by themselves

Look more closely at what it means to be salt in the sense of fertilizer

 

Note - Must have that connection – not contamination. It can be mucky, painful, heart-breaking, detailed but that is how it works. There is no shortcut! It retains its distinctiveness.

Links closely with the thought of adding flavour – bring out the best.

Making good things grow – i.e. God made everything and said it was good. He gave us so much and made us to be such incredible people – and told us to live life to the full.

Surely the best way of showing our appreciation is to use to the full what he has entrusted to us.

Bring out the best in life – to do that we have to start with ourselves – bring out the whole of who we are – both temperaments – and then use them to the full – expand into the whole of life – the third room.

The tragedy is that so often people have connected Christianity with precisely the opposite. They have connected Christianity with that which takes the flavour out of life. Swinburne had it:

“Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown gray from Thy breath.”

Even after Constantine had made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, there came to the throne another Emperor called Julian, who wished to put the clock back and to bring back the old gods. His complaint, as Ibsen puts it, was:

“Have you looked at these Christians closely? Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all; they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition: the sun shines for them, but they do not see it: the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die.”

As Julian saw it, Christianity took the vividness out of life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.” Robert Louis Stevenson once entered in his diary, as if he was recording an extraordinary phenomenon, “I have been to Church to-day, and am not depressed.”

Men need to discover the lost radiance of the Christian faith. In a worried world, the Christian should be the only man who remains serene. In a depressed world, the Christian should be the only man who remains full of the joy of life. There should be a sheer sparkle about the Christian but too often he dresses like a mourner at a funeral, and talks like a spectre at a feast. Wherever he is, if he is to be the salt of the earth, the Christian must be the diffuser of joy.

How do we be these things? By being ourselves in whatever sphere God has called us to be in with the Spirit of God within.

Mum – be that to your family –

what are you doing with your husband, your children:

encouraging good things to grow

Stopping bad things from growing

Isn’t that what we are doing when we see those strengths and encourage them but when we see the weaknesses we stand against them and show a better way.

Single – free to serve in whatever ways is true to who you are and what God has for you. So you are free to visit, to mix, you don’t experience the restrictions so your influences can go further afield. Parents’ influences go to depth and focus. Singles can do that and to a wide sphere of people.

How do you lose saltiness?

Although the salt recovered from impure salt substances taken from the Dead Sea could dissolve, leaving only the impurities behind, the point here is closer to that expressed by a rabbi at the end of the first century. When asked how one could make saltless salt salty again, he replied that one should salt it with the afterbirth of a mule. Being sterile, mules have no afterbirth, and he was saying that those who ask a stupid question receive a stupid answer. Real salt does not lose its saltiness; but if it did, what would you do to restore its

salty flavor—salt it? Unsalty salt was worthless

Sodium chlorine

So, for the Christian, for the salt of the earth, to lose his degree of saltiness, the Gospel would have to diluted in his life. This person is the complacent Christian,

With respect to the Biblical quote about salt losing its saltiness, you must remember than the salt they had was natural, sea salt, and none too pure, at that. It may have been mixed with other substances, and, if it got wet, the actual sodium chloride would dissolve and flow away in the solution, while the insoluble stuff (dirt, crud, bird droppings, whatever) would remain. Then you'd taste it and say, Hey! Where'd the salt go?

The presence of other minerals in it—impurities—could result in the loss of its distinctive flavour and its preservative effects

It was thrown on the footpaths or roof tops to form a hard top seal. Salt taken from the Dead Sea had many impurities. The people in this part of the world were accustomed to unusable salt.

It is common in Syria and Palestine to see salt scattered in piles on the ground because it has lost its flavour

Interesting that it cannot lose saltiness except by contamination.

Must be used

Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus — enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’ ”

Not overkill

Could be used to spoil the land – don’t smother

You alone are the salt of the earth. The strong emphasis on ὑμεῖς‚ which is placed forward for that reason, has the force of “you—you alone,” i.e., Christ’s disciples. The predicate, too, has the article, τὸ ἅλας‚ which implies that subject and predicate are identical and convertible, so that we may say, “The salt of the earth are you.”

Light

16 “No-one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” Luke 8:16-18

What is this about? Use it. Be proud of what you have achieved – where you have got to – be confident with it – and it will all give glory to God. After all, this is how God wants us to live – be pleased for him.

The image is of a brightly lit city on a hill-top, representing the corporate effect of the combined ‘lights’ of individual disciples.

 

The small wicker oil lamps of this period gave little light in the average home, which had few windows; they would be most effective by being set on a lampstand. Something large placed over them would presumably extinguish the light altogether.

A light is first and foremost something which is meant to be seen. The houses in Palestine were very dark with only one little circular window perhaps not more than eighteen inches across. The lamp was like a sauce-boat filled with oil with the wick floating in it. It was not so easy to rekindle a lamp in the days before matches existed. Normally the lamp stood on the lampstand which would be no more than a roughly shaped branch of wood: but when people went out, for safety’s sake, they took the lamp from its stand, and put it under an earthen bushel measure, so that it might burn without risk until they came back. The primary duty of the light of the lamp was to be seen.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:21-23

It may well be said that this is the greatest compliment that was ever paid to the individual Christian, for in it Jesus commands the Christian to be what he himself claimed to be. Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). When Jesus commanded his followers to be the lights of the world, he demanded nothing less than that they should be like himself.

So, then, Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.” A man’s Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men.

There are two most important things here.

(i) Men are to see our good deeds. In Greek there are two words for good. There is the word agathos which simply defines a thing as good in quality; there is kalos which means that a things is not only good, but that it is also winsome and beautiful and attractive. The word which is used here is kalos.

The good deeds of the Christian must be not only good; they must be also attractive. There must be a certain winsomeness in Christian goodness. The tragedy of so much so-called goodness is that in it there is an element of hardness and coldness and austerity. There is a goodness which attracts and a goodness which repels. There is a charm in true Christian goodness which makes it a lovely thing.

(ii) It is further to be noted that our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God. This saying of Jesus is a total prohibition of what someone has called “theatrical goodness.”

Not a bushel. “The figure is taken from lowly cottage life. There was a projecting stone in the wall on which the lamp was set. The house consisted of a single room, so that the tiny light sufficed for all” (Bruce). It was not put under the bushel (the only one in the room) save to put it out or to hide it. The bushel was an earthenware grain measure.

Wycliffe has apparently caught this correct sense: So shine your light before men.

 

In conversations – don’t be afraid to say, ‘as a Christian’ or another way of looking at this is….

Don’t push it down people’s throats but don’t be afraid to be it.

In other words, be who you are

That is – you as a whole person and you with Jesus within.

You are not doing it to be praised but that light points automatically to God. Everyone is in that pool of light.

We become this blessing by being the whole of who we are.

Connection

Confidence

Content

But no contamination

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