Jesus talks about the new state of those people who have responded to him. Jesus begins by saying, “You are the salt of the earth.”
There are many uses of salt. First, salt is used as preservative. As salt, is used as a preservative – think of how we add salt to dry and preserve meat – followers of Jesus are to keep the world and life-worlds in which God has placed and called them from decay and corruption. Related to this, second, salt is a disinfectant. Throughout history, salt has been used as a natural disinfectant and as a cleanser of wounds. Followers of Jesus are thus called to disinfect and help in cleansing the wounds of a broken world.
Third, salt adds flavour to food. Think of cooking meat without salt. It’s bland and insipid. It is salt that adds and draws out the flavour of food. So also, Christians are to add flavour to the life-worlds and stations of our callings and careers. Unfortunately, many times we are the exact opposite. Instead of adding flavour and savour, zing and tang, to the world around us, we, usually because of our uptightness, only make it more dull and vapid.
Finally, salt makes us thirsty. Our calling is to make other people thirsty – thirsty for Jesus, “The Fountain of Living Water.”
Shine Your Light
Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Light is bright; light brightens. We are to brighten the corners God has placed us in like light. Just as we place light strategically in a room, so that it will give optimum brightness, God has strategically placed you where you are right now so that you can give optimum light there.
Lead in the Light
Light warns and light leads. Think of a lighthouse or a flashlight – they reveal potential dangers around and show the way. So also, followers of Jesus are meant to warn the world of the dangers and perils around and to help people navigate through the straight and narrow way of life.
Our High and Narrow Calling
As followers of Jesus, we are required to travel in a straight line, as light travels in a straight line. This is, no doubt, easier said than done; but that is our high and narrow calling.
But we must also remember that the light we are to shine in the world is not our own light. In and of ourselves, we have no light of our own. But just as the moon, which has not light of its own, reflects the light of the sun, we are also called to reflect Jesus, “The Light of the World.” And we can only reflect him by beholding him.
Draw People to the Faith
Light is attractive. We are not called to be gray and gloomy. Dry-as-stone-dust, long-faced-as-horses, zero-bulb, joy-killing, pointed-eyed Christians do not attract anyone to the faith. We have to attract people to the faith by shining our light.
Our Life’s Purpose
We must realize that both metaphors that Jesus uses of his followers – salt and light – are metaphors of engagement with the world, not retreat from the world. We are not called to be the salt of the church or the light of the chapel; we are called and commissioned to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Jesus finally says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus does not say, “Let people hear your good words.” We are often very good with words, but not good enough with works. But as light travels faster than sound, the light of our works travels faster than the sound of our words.
Finally, the purpose of our good works is not to bring glory to ourselves but glory to God. We are not here to make a name. We are here to serve THE NAME. Oh, to God that we lived up to our call!
Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash