Salting and Lighting Your World
First ST Johns Feb 9, 2014
We Make our beginning in the Name of God the Father, and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are the salt and the light of the world said… AMEN
Are you the salt of the earth? Reminds me of that great song from Godspell, “You are the salt of the world, but if that salt has lost its flavor, it ain’t got much in it’s favor, you can’t have that fault and be the salt of the earth.” Salt and light were precious commodities back in Jesus’ time. If He was talking to us today He might ask us if we are the petroleum oil and the Amana freezer of our time. Salt and light were valuable, unlike today where, relatively speaking oil and refrigeration are relatively cheap, everyone uses oil in some form and pretty much everyone has a refrigerator/freezer in their home. Tory Borst notes: “Salt is one of those common everyday items we use without thought. We grab the shaker and shake. According to the Salt Institute (www.saltinstitute.org), in the year 2002 over a billion dollars were spent on salt in the United States alone using about 24 ½ million tons of salt.” In Jesus’ time it was more the exception than the rule that you would be able to light your home at night or you would be able to salt your food to preserve it. For the average worker, they would do their work during the day, they would get paid on that day and they would buy what they needed to eat for the rest of that day, they simply didn’t have a way to preserve food for a month, even a few days as most people have today. The phrase “he’s not worth his salt” comes from around that period, Roman soldiers would be paid in salt, if they weren’t performing their jobs properly it was said they weren’t worth the salt they were being paid.
It really goes back to a very fundamental question that we should be asking ourselves all the time. Henry Blackaby‘s devotional raised the issue and he points out what should be a constant reminder to us, are we salt, are we that preserving agent in a corrupted, degenerating world. “Your life is designed and commissioned by God to enhance a community and to preserve what is good and right.” (Henry Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day p 51) Origen writes: “As salt preserves meat from decaying, so also do Christ’s disciples, [that’s you and me, not just the 11 guys with Jesus, we are all Christ’s disciples], do Jesus’ disciples have a preservative effect?” That is do we simply decay and degrade along with the environment, or is there something active in us? That being the Holy Spirit. Chrysostom writing again says “The worldly are less like lamps than buckets, lacking in God, they are empty from above but full from below.” Do we want to be stretching toward what’s above instead of wallowing in what’s below? Those around us in the world deserve the same chance following the leading of the Holy Spirit and help those around you to be full from above.
Blackaby points out when we are focused on God and what He is guiding us to do, are we staying in front of God? This may be a digression, but it’s part of being a soldier of the Cross too. Do I go and worship, restrengthened, yes even rearmed in Christ. Have we been in His presence in worship, hearing the preached Word, strengthened by the Body of Christ, our brothers and sisters? If we haven’t been strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ, can we truly be prepared to be salt to a world, that is decidedly unsalty and very corrupt and degenerate world. We are regenerated through the things that God gives us, baptism, Scripture, the preached Word and the Body and Blood. We are not only salt in the world, but we are also sufficiently armed to face the spiritual challenges that keep pushing back against everything that is Jesus. Worship, discipleship, the things that we do to serve and worship God give us our saltiness.
Blackaby asks: “How do we test the ‘saltiness’ of our life? Look at our family. Are we preserving it from the destructive influences that surround it? Examine our workplace. Are the sinful influences in our work environment being halted because we are there? Observe our community. Is it a better place because we are involved in it? What about our church?” Chromatius tells us: “Those who have been educated for heavenly wisdom ought to remain steadfast so as not to be made tasteless by the devil’s treachery.”
No one is saying that your environment is perfect, we are always going to live in a fallen world. But because of our saltiness, is the world around us being impacted? When I worked in finance and during my time on active duty, people did come to me, and they did kind of expect a little more from me, and they did want to “talk”. I was a light in my environment that people were drawn to. Chromatius again, says: “ Jesus’ disciples are called the light of the world because they are illumined by One who is the true and eternal light.” If we are in Christ, we cannot help but project His light. No, it’s not like a lighthouse, “hey look at Driskell over in his cube, all lit up”, but it’s a supernatural radiance that the Holy Spirit produces in you that people look for guidance like sailors looking at a lighthouse. I’m not saying that I was just all that, but it seems that I did make an impact. Many of us, who expect whiz-bang results, I can’t say my results were whiz-bang, but I can say that God was using me. Let’s make it a constant recheck, are we affecting our environment for Christ in the way the Holy Spirit is leading us to impact?
Kevin Haug, who labels himself a Lutheran preacher in Texas told a story written by Warren Hudson of Ontario, Canada. He writes, “One night at the end of a special Saturday night worship service a thunderstorm unleashed a bolt of lightning that plunged the church into darkness.” With the congregation seated in total darkness, the pastor felt his way to the kitchen to find some candles. The pastor handed out the candles to everyone present. Persons lit their candles in much the same way as many churches do on Christmas Eve, each person lighting the candle of the person next to them. The worshipers then made their way through the church’s winding hallways to the front door.
“Peering out, we could see the rain coming down in sheets,” Warren remembers. With traffic snarled, people were running for the nearest shelter. Looking around they realized that the entire city was in darkness. “There in the darkness we stood,” Warren writes, “a little band of Christians, each clutching a light, not sure whether to venture out into the storm or stay inside the church in hopes that the storm would soon blow over.”
Isn’t this an appropriate analogy for many of us in the church? We know there is a world out there enshrouded in darkness. A world out there that is bland and in need of spice. Yet, what do we do about it? Do we face the storm and shine our light? Do we add some spice to the world?”
You really can light up your environment and make it a lot more interesting, a lot more compelling and yes, a lot more challenging. But once you are hooked on jumping in and challenging, not in an arrogant way, or obnoxious, but in a compelling way and in a loving way, showing to others the love of Christ. It is exhilarating, you can’t see it, but as Jesus tells us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” This isn’t to brag on yourself, but by letting your light shine, seeing what God does through you, You glorify God and others see you being glorified by God. God initiates, He raises you up to be salt and light, you become that to others and by virtue of what you’ve done God is glorified to all. It truly is amazing that by being salt and light God continues to raise us up, raise others through us and justly and deservedly brings glory to Himself.
Spend some time this week, get out your journal, I know all of you contribute so much to your church, your family, your associates, but do they see how God is taking something so ordinary as salt and light and using it to His glory, by glorifying you and turning others to Him through you? How can you help others to know that the true source of your spiciness and light is our Father in heaven?
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.