This is not a new concept, but many times Jesus spoke of us as being the salt and light in the world. We can find one of the examples in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:
““You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people” (Mathew 5:13)
Now, it is important to remember that salt was used in the Middle East of the first century for two reasons. First, due to the lack of refrigeration, they used salt to preserve food, especially meat which would quickly spoil in the desert heat. So, in this comparison, disciples of Christ are expected to be preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil in a society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin.
The Psalmist saw the need for this:
Everyone has turned away.
Together they have become rotten to the core.
No one, not even one person, does good things (Psalm 14:3)
Paul understood this and wrote:
Those who are under the control of the corrupt nature can’t please God (Romans 8:8).
But Jesus expected His Church to change all that, to move upon society in a positive way. Way back in 1867, William Booth had only 10 full-time disciples working with him, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all o them serving under the name “The Christian Mission.”
One day, Booth was reading a printer’s proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Crossing out the words “volunteer army,” he penned in “Salvation Army.” From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.
From that point, The Salvation Army gives “a hand up, not a handout and we serve those in need without discrimination or judgment.” It is said that in the early 1900’s, during the Welsh revivals the believers affected their entire society.
“As revival fire spread across Wales in late 1904 and early 1905, although no official records were kept of the actual number converted, 150,000 is considered a very conservative estimate, during the first six months! People’s lives were transformed by the thousands. This was indeed, a sovereign move of God’s Holy Spirit!
“Whole communities were turned upside down, and were radically changed from depravity to glorious goodness. The crime rate dropped, often to nothing. The police force reported that they had little more to do than supervise the coming and going of the people to the chapel prayer meetings, while magistrates turned up at courts to discover no cases to try.
“The alcohol trade was decimated, as people were caught up more by what happened in the local chapels than the local public houses and bars. Families experienced amazing renewal, where the money earning husband and father, the breadwinner, had wasted away the income and sowed discord, but now under the moving power of the Holy Spirit, following the conversion to be a follower of Jesus Christ, he not only provided correctly for family needs, but was now with the family, rather than wasting his time, and wages, in the public houses of the village or town. Souls were saved, individual lives were changed and Society itself was changed. Countless numbers were converted to Christ.”
That my friends is how the Salt preserves a society!
Salt was also used then, as it is now, to enhance the flavor of food. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of our food, the disciples of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world.
When Christians live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, they will influence the world for the good, the same way that salt has a positive influence on the flavor of our food. Whenever you find strife, there will be peacemakers; whenever there is sorrow, you will find ministers of Christ binding up wounds, and when you find hatred, disciples of Christ will exemplify the love of God in Christ.
When you use the comparison, the analogy of light in our world, the good works of Christ’s disciples s are to shine for all to see. To borrow the Salvation Armies’ motto: “a hand-up, not a handout and we serve those in need without discrimination or judgment.”
This is what Jesus was trying to get us to understand:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
The idea here is similar — when you are standing in the midst of darkness there is no mistaking the appearance of light. This is how our presence in the world must be like, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkness in our hearts that have become darkened by our sin but also in the sense that our demonstrations of love must be evident. People should be able to look at us as examples of compassion and mercy. And, the will be evident if they are performed in accordance with the other principles which Jesus taught us.
Notice especially that the concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on might “glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Just the other day, I became vividly aware of the importance and significance of light in our world. I entered our bedroom and before I stepped in, I flipped on the light. It was a good thing because I suddenly saw a deposit our dog made exactly where I was going to step. Our lives, our displays of love will cast light on the “deposits” of the hearts of those around us.
A perfect example of such love was displayed by the falsely maligned Chic-fil-a. Much to the delight of many, what Chick-Fil-A did after the shooting at a gay club in Orlando, was amazing! As most know, the chain is notorious for not being open, ever, on a Sunday, but despite that, they quietly fired up their grills on Sunday and cooked up hundreds of their famous chicken sandwiches. They also brewed dozens of gallons of sweet tea. Then, instead of making a single dime, and without pomp and circumstance, they crated the product of their labor, and brought it to the primary blood donation center. The food and drinks were handed out, free of charge, to all the people who had lined up to donate blood.
Now remember, we are simply ambassadors, sent to represent our King by carrying His torch and brightening the world with the Life o Christ. We should never stand out for our own sake. Those who see us should be drawn to “glorify your Father who is in heaven,” and not ourselves.
The only thing that can hinder or prevent us from fulfilling our roles as salt and light in the world is to step in the wrong direction, to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or convenience or to violate our obedience to our Lord; by seeking our own glory, instead of drawing men in glorifying our King.
This is also seen in Mark’s Gospel:
Salt is good. But if salt loses its taste, how will you restore its flavor? Have salt within you, and live in peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
I’ll tell you what, when you become embroiled in arguments and confrontations with your brothers or sisters in the Church, you will certainly lose saltiness. You must be careful to always seek peace in your relationships.
Luke adds to this argument:
“Salt is good. But if salt loses its taste, how will you restore its flavor? It’s not any good for the ground or for the manure pile. People throw it away.
“Let the person who has ears listen!” (Luke 14:34-35)
Yep, it is another reference to the metaphor of salt, but this time, it concerns our obedient discipleship to our Lord. We lose our saltiness when we fail to “take up the cross” and follow Christ with our whole heart . . . and this is to be done daily!
So, it seems, then, that our role as salt and light in the world will be hindered or prevented through our choices to compromise or settle for whatever is more convenient or comfortable, rather than that which is obedient and pleases our Lord.
Also, our status of being salt and light is a natural outgrowth of our humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. When we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of genuine discipleship the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become blurred and we blow our testimony. It is only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him that we can we expect to remain salt and light in the world.
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