Salt and Light
Salt and Light
Salt and Light
It still seems surreal at times when September 11th comes around. September 11th, 2001 was 21 years ago, but it seems like that day and the days that followed are burned into so many of our memories. I am going to ask that we all take a moment this morning and go before the throne of God in prayer.
“Father God, We come into your throne room this morning. Some are too young to remember what happened that day, for some of us it is a reminder of the evil nature of the world around us. As we looked to you then, we continue to look to you this morning. We know that persecution comes to those who work for the truth of your son Jesus Christ, those who seek justice and salvation through Him for this world. Father God, we pray for those lives lost, for those who died responding, for those who survived, for those who went off to war, for those who did not return, and for those who carry loss, physical scars, and emotional scars. Allow us, your children, to go forth and carry the light, teach us through your Word and Holy Spirit to be a reflection of you unto this world, a reflection of Christ to all who cross our paths. We thank you for the divine opportunity and privilege to share your son with this world. In the mighty name of Yeshua (Ham-a-shee-ach) Hamashiach, Jesus the Messiah, Amen.
Many of us can recall the days and weeks following 9/11/2001, the churches were packed! The president at the time openly used the name of God. People were searching for hope during a tragedy that shook America to the core. We were struck by evil. I was still new to the faith back then, but I recognized something as the churches filled up with people.
I saw something incredible happening. I saw people openly praying in town squares and cities around the nation. I saw God’s people uniting. I saw the Christian Witness of Jesus Christ in those who put their faith in Him. They were people just like you and me. Believers sharing their witness in the darkest of times.
Brothers and sisters, this world needs your witness. When we talk about our witness for Christ, what does that mean? Jesus covered what our witness looks like in three verses. Just after giving the Beatitudes at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to the disciples comparing the believers witness to salt and light, and he did not hold back.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the salt of the earth.” By virtue of speaking these words to the disciples, Jesus speaks the same words to us today. Jesus spoke to his disciples collectively and individually when he uses the word “you.” He is speaking to all of us collectively, and to each of our hearts and minds this morning. What I want you to notice is that word “are.” In the Greek, that is called an “equative verb.” Jesus is not telling us this is something that we are to work toward or that it is an action we perform. It means exactly what he says “You are the salt of the earth.” So why did Jesus choose to compare disciples to salt?
Salt is distinct. You are distinct this morning. Salt is distinctly different from what we put it on. We are called to be separate from this world, to be different from this world. Like salt, by nature and by purpose, we are different from this world. We are new creations born of God through Christ. What good is it to pour salt on salt? We end up with a plate full of salt that does nothing. That is what happens when we gather together but do nothing to bring others to the Lord. We are not called to salt heaven, we do not need to. We are called to go into the world and flavor it, to change the very taste of the earth, and to do so with love and respect. Keeping our salt locked up in the church does nothing for this world. Let’s take this a bit deeper.
Salt was at times used as a fertilizer (we are called to help others grow in their knowledge of God) but salt was predominantly used as a preservative during the time of Christ. It is still used widely as a preservative to keep things from decaying, just read the nutritional information on almost any packaged food. Since we are called to be different, it is incumbent upon every believer to stop corruption and moral decay as much as it is in your power. Who do you have power over? You. It begins with each of us, in our homes, and then into our communities.
Salt was and is also used to clean, disinfect, and purify. Can you guess what the main ingredient in bleach is? Salt. We are called to be pure in heart, word, and deed seeking His sanctification daily. Salt is irrepressible. Once applied, it cannot be stopped. A believer’s salt, your testimony, is irrepressible; it cannot be stopped. It is the story of you and Jesus. Your testimony is HIS witness!
When Jesus asked “What good is salt when it loses its flavor? Can you make it salty again?” I was confused. I have never heard of salt losing its flavor. So I had to dig. Jesus was connecting his teaching to the Old Testament. There is a place called “The Valley of Salt” just south of the Dead Sea. It lies between Judah and Edom. It appears in 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Kings. There where several battles fought at the Valley of Salt. You can still find salt there that when exposed for too long to the sun, rain, and elements, has no flavor, it becomes disconnected from the salt vein. It still sparkles like salt crystals, but has no taste or preservative properties. The salt that remains connected to the vein still tastes like salt and has preservative properties.
If we become disconnected from Christ, we lose our flavor. Many can still look like Christians but act far from it, offering a terrible witness unto Jesus Christ to this world. Jesus was comparing our life in Him and our witness of Holy Spirit with salt. Remaining connected to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is what causes us to be instruments of good for others through Him. The salt that had no taste or had impurities mixed with it, was used in the temple courtyards to keep people from slipping in the water, it served no other purpose except to be trampled under foot.
Christ was giving us a picture of the believer who mixes the world with His Word. Those who allow the world to take first place in their lives and allow it to pollute their witness. Those who live a life led by emotions, pride, ego, greed, power and prestige. Jesus is talking about the corruption of the human heart. Those believers who twist the Word, grieve the Spirit, and become stumbling blocks to other believers. Those who claim the name of Jesus yet become stumbling blocks to those who might otherwise come to know Jesus Christ. What does your witness for Christ look like? Are you preserving the Spirit of God in your life? Does your life continue to exemplify the taste of Jesus this morning?
This next verse is awesome!
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
In 1 John 1:5, we are told that God is the light of the world. In John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the Light of the World.”
What an enormous compliment! God is light, Christ is light, and we are said to be the light of the world. There is no greater compliment any one of us could receive! Jesus, the light of the world, calls us the light of the world. Again, that word “are.” You are the light of the world. Now, Jesus was saying something of incredible importance to the disciples. The title “light of the world” or “ner ôlam” in Hebrew was reserved for the most eminent of Rabbin. Christ, God with us, was transferring this title of “ner ôlam” “light of the world” to His own disciples. To each of you this morning.
As much of a compliment as this is, it is a tremendous responsibility as well. The same one who created light in Genesis 1:3 knows the nature of light. Light is meant to cut through the darkness. Light enlarges our vision and knowledge of an area. Light reveals the truth of an area. Light guides and directs our steps. Light warns us of danger in our path.
We are to be a light in the same way. We are to shine and reflect Christ to each-other and to the world. As a matter of fact, we are to be the living demonstration of the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven. Like a city on a hilltop can not be hidden, neither can the light of a disciple of Christ. Who or what is the light pointing to in your life this morning? Are we shining the light on ourselves? On someone or something else? Or, are we pointing to the cross and Jesus Christ? What we say and what we do has a profound effect on those around us. Our words and actions have the power to bring someone closer to Christ or to push them away from Jesus.
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
We are called to live a publicly visible life that is without reproach. The result being that those who see will glorify God. Some believers are under the impression that we are to withdraw from the world. If we isolate ourselves, the world will simply pay no attention. What good is light if it is locked in a room with no one to see?
Jesus’ disciples, then and now, possess kingdom life, which produces good deeds from a changed life. Bearing the light of the gospel in both message and life will bring people to know that the kingdom of heaven truly is in the world, and they will glorify their heavenly Father. This brings me back to 9/11.
People like you are the reason the churches were packed. People who are the very salt and light that Jesus spoke of in these parables. I pray that we all remain consistent in our walks, pure in heart and motive, and continue to share the Good news of Jesus Christ with this hurting and broken world. God bless you this morning.