Monday, April 27, 2015

Salt and light

“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." Matthew 5:13-16 NIV

I read this passage for the umpteenth time again this morning and was reminded of the main mission that I am called to as a disciple of Jesus, to spread His gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. How?

First, you and I are to be salt. Salt has many attributes, but two are primary: to season, and to preserve. I remember a trip to Papua New Guinea where a team of us were being served an authentic meal that the tribal people would eat. It was terrible. They dug a hole, started a fire, heated some rocks, and then layered meat and vegetables with huge leaves in between. A hole was left in the middle, like a homemade volcano, and then water was poured down the hole to the hot rocks below. Everything was  cooked by steam, covered by wet leaves...the food reeked of the taste of these leaves.

We got through that meal because of three things; 1) those who made it were hoping to take as much food a possible back to their families (and they did), 2) they gave us all a can of Coke, and 3) we had a big container of salt we were passing around. And believe me, we added lots of salt to our food to season and mask the flavor.

Now in a similar way, as a Christ follower, my life is to be salt to those around me. And what if I lose my saltiness? As Jesus says, salt that isn't salty is no good...toss it.

This is not a passage about salvation, but effectiveness. Jesus isn't saying that if you lose your saltiness you aren't saved anymore, but He is observing that you aren't effective anymore. So how are we salty? I think the next part of this passage answers that question.

Second, we are not only salt, but we are light. Not just any light, but the light of the world. What specifically is the light? Our light is our good works, motivated by the love of Jesus in us. I got this vision that my life is like a flashlight, and the good works I do are the batteries that power the light. Or my life is like a fire, and the good works are like fresh, dry wood thrown on the fire. The point of doing good works is so that people will see Christ in me and give Him praise. My good works don't give me salvation, but they are how I accomplish the mission Christ has given to every believer, to spread His gospel, His love. Or to put it another way, our good works make us salty.

And these works are there for all of us. It's everything from opening a door for someone, to feeding the poor. From helping someone with their groceries, to offering forgiveness to one who has wronged you. It's the simple things like pausing to pray for someone who is hurting, and the big things like giving up your vacation to work at an orphanage in a third world country. The examples of "good works" are endless and it would be foolish of me to try to list any others. We are all called to the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. Not someone else's good works, but ours.

Let's shine bright for Him today! Soli deo gloria.