"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 underfoot."
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Jesus uses the image of salt and light to help us understand the importance of being God’s agents of redemption to the world. Therefore, Jesus says, “You are salt and you are light.” Jesus basically says, “If you are my true followers, you will be salt and light.”
Salt and light make an impact. For example, SALT impacts meats by preserving it from decay. LIGHT makes an impact by coming into the darkness and revealing what was hidden.
The church is set in the world with a double role. Salt: we are called to stop or slow down the process of social decay. Light: we are called to dispel the darkness.
SALT OF THE EARTH
Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt is only good if it is salty. If the salt is not cared for properly it will lose its saltiness and therefore becomes good for nothing. There is a warning of judgment within this particular text when it talks about what will happen if salt becomes useless. It will be thrown out and trampled over. Jesus is speaking to those who are faithful and encourages them to remain faithful (remain salty).
Jesus’ followers play a vital role in our culture, because we are called to uphold a certain level of moral and ethical standard. This world operates by a different set of standards. Therefore, Christians are called to live like Jesus in order to be the salt of the earth. But, in order to do that there needs to be a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us. The Christian in called to be distinct from the world. The world wants to listen to authentic followers of Jesus. The problem is that they see something else.
(1) the world sees people who call themselves Christian, yet they look and act and talk just like they do.
(2) the world see a group of hypocrites that are more concerned about other people’s sins than their own.
If Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians, we are useless.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
The second metaphor that Jesus uses is light. Within this section we are given three different images that illustrate light:
1. A town on a hill (can be seen for miles)
2. A small oil lamp (it gives light to the whole house)
3. The light as a metaphor for good deeds
Lights are designed to shine, not hidden. The light reveals the truth. We are supposed to let others see what we are doing. Yet, in MATTHEW 6:1 Jesus says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.” But here we are supposed to let others see. We balance this with the fact that our light shines in order to point people to Jesus, not ourselves.
A community of Jesus that hides itself (doesn't shine) ceases to be a community of Jesus. When we begin to live authentic lives for Jesus people will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.
WHERE IS THE LIGHT?
What do we do with this passage? We’ve probably heard the idea that Christians are called to be the light to the world a bunch. We recognize that this world is dark and that we are called to bear witness to Jesus. We are light bearers to the message of Jesus that helps people to see. The problem with people in darkness is that they don't know anything else, because nothing is revealed in the darkness. People can only see what the darkness conceals when the light is turned on. We’re called to be light. We expose the darkness for what it is, but we do it in ways that point people to Jesus, not away from Jesus.
We cannot blame people for being in darkness, if we’re not willing to shine the light. Where is the light?
WHERE IS THE SALT?
We have been called and challenged by Jesus to live in a secular society. We are called to go into the world and make a difference in it. Just like salt is added to meat in order to stop it from decaying; we are called to penetrate this world in order to stop it from further decay. The ironic thing is that when this world or society goes bad, Christians have a tendency to throw up our hands and damn the world for being so evil. But shouldn't we look at ourselves?
We cannot blame an unsalted piece of meat for going bad. If the meat doesn't have salt placed on it, it has no other choice but to decay. Therefore, we need to take a serious look at the world and ask ourselves: where is the salt?
What are you doing? How’s your life shining light into the darkness? If you’re not a shining light in this world, don't damn the world for being dark.
Are you becoming the salt of the earth? What are you doing in order to stop the world from total decay? If you aren’t doing anything to stop the moral decay of this world, then stop complaining that this world is evil.
Jesus calls us to be his agents of redemption to the world. What are you doing to fulfill that calling?
grace and peace