Jesus could have simply said, “Don’t be a moron!” But He didn’t.
He was usually very polite.
But one day, He had a large crowd of listeners up on a mountain, and with poetic flare that still fascinates us 2000 years later, He tells His listeners how they are to be His disciples.
He tells them they are salt and light.
That’s sounds nice, doesn’t it? These are very pretty images. But what do they mean?
Metaphors are usually messy. They are open to interpretation.
Jesus could have simply said, “People will know you are a Christian if you go to church regularly.” We could manage that, I think. Or Jesus could have said, “You can be my witness if you wear a Christian T-shirt.” T-shirts sound fun and comfortable. Or Jesus could have suggested that we all create a cross wall in our home, maybe in the livingroom or above the mantle, perhaps. These things would be easy. And cross walls are pretty—everybody knows that!
But Jesus didn’t suggest cross walls or t-shirts. He didn’t even give us a list of things to do to be a good Christian. Jesus said salt and light.
“You are the salt of the Earth… you are the light of the world… let your light shine like a city on a hill… let our light shine so that others may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.
So how do we do this? How do we make the earth salty and how do we let our light shine?
A couple of years ago, a member of my church loaned me a book about the history of salt. Despite what you might be thinking, it was a fascinating read, and I learned much more than I expected about the stuff I sprinkle on my tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants. I learned that in the ancient world, salt had three basic purposes: salt was a preservative, salt was a seasoning, and because it’s a nutrient necessary for life, salt often served as a valuable form of currency. In fact, sometimes Roman soldiers were paid a ‘salarium’ or a quantity of salt rather than money and that’s how we get the English word ‘salary.’ It amazing how much of our history and even our vocabulary has been shaped by salt.
But then, I guess, Jesus already knew this. Didn’t He! He knows all things.
And so, of course, Jesus calls his disciples to be salt. He wants us to shape the world and maybe even shape history, too.
It’s actually a pretty basic concept—we don’t need to over think it. Salt is a basic substance: It’s absolutely essential to cooking and absolutely essential to life. It dissolves into any liquid and it brightens any flavor. It purifies what is corrupt. And so if we are to be salt, that then leaves an abundance of possibilities for how Jesus wants us to live as His people.
But then Jesus says something that doesn’t make sense. He says, “If salt losses it’s saltiness it is no good.” And while I suppose that’s true, the commonsense reality is that salt can’t really lose its saltiness. It’s impossible. Salt is always salty.
But see… that’s His point. And the same is true of you and me. We are His disciples and so by default we make a difference in this world. That’s what Christians do. It’s impossible to think of a Christian who doesn’t make a difference.
In fact, Jesus uses the Greek word morono to describe such worthless salt. This is the Greek word from which we get the English world moron. Any salt that losses its saltiness is moronic! It is utterly pointless and foolish. And I suppose the same then could be said of any Christian who doesn’t take his or her calling seriously.
Jesus’ second metaphor is light. And it goes without saying that light’s character is to make things visible. In the middle of the night, a city on a hill is visible to everyone who looks up. And the light of a lamp makes a room visible to everyone who occupies it. It would be utterly moronic for someone to light an oil lamp and then hide it under a basket. How absurd… and it’s a fire hazard , too!
We are in 30 days of prayer and purpose… So how are you being salt and light?
Let me give you some examples:
Over the last year, I’ve been hearing the testimony of a business owner who is learning how to be salt and light toward his employees. He is radically overhauling how he does business, trains managers, and conducts meetings. His faith is on fire and he’s bringing prayer, and scriptures and godly leadership into everything he does. It’s producing some amazing fruit. I commend him for it.
Recently, a young mother told me she has committed to bringing her little toddler to church every Sunday, regardless of whether he acts up in the pew. She wants him to learn how to worship by watching her worship. It’ll take a lot of patience and some firm discipline over many months, but it’s the best thing she could be doing for her little one. It’ll make a huge difference. I commend her for it.
Right after Christmas, I published in the bulletin a request for help ministering to our homebound and shut-in elderly members. One of our teachers decided she and her students would start writing letters our homebound members. She is teaching her students how to love beyond themselves. And I think that’s amazing.
This year a 79 year-old member of our church came to me with an idea to start up a small-group Bible study. He said he wanted to try a new way to get people engaged in God’s word. He did know if it would work, but he didn’t want to just do nothing, so he decided to do something. I couldn’t be more proud.
All of these example are just some of the many ways we can be salt and light.
I guess it’s not that hard, after all!
Lord, don’t let me be a moron in Your eyes!
A thought to ponder through the day ahead:
- Think through the people in your family or circle of friends. Who among them is a good example of salt and light? What is it about them that makes them so salty?
Lord, I ask that You would keep me well-balanced in my friendships and relationships with others that I might always seek to please You rather than please man. Help me use my words to build up my friends and give them words, also, that encourage me, even as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Thank You for my church and help me to seek and find friendships among these people so that I might grow ever fonder of Your house. Keep me from bad influences and those who would lead me into gossip and ungodly behavior. Give me friends whom I can be myself around—the person You created me to be.
Lord, help me to salt my words with Your love and grace. Guard my mind and my fingers every time I type an email or post on social media. Guard my tongue in all the conversations I will have this day. Let me encourage rather than disparage. Let me rejoice rather than complain.
Give me light, Jesus, to see You in the people around me, and like a mirror reflecting the rays of the sun, let others see You in the way that I reflect Your love. You are the most precious and lovely part of my life, and I want to live in the Light of Your love. Help me, O Lord. Amen