How many times have you heard people say that your faith is a personal thing. How many times have people been scolded for bringing their “religion” to the workplace, the athletic field, the schools or to the government?
Have you ever felt the pressure that tells you to “keep it to yourself”?
As we closed out the first twelve verses of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about the blessings of being persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
That lead us to a question, “How now shall we live”?
Given the start of this great sermon by Jesus, how does He expect us to live in this dying world? What does He expect citizens of His kingdom to do while we are in this world? Are we to go to the hills and hide? Are we to lock the doors of the church and hope we do not get stained by the world?
Are we supposed to blend in with the world during the week and then put on a “church face” for Sunday?
How are those who possess the riches of heaven supposed to live out their lives until they receive their full inheritance? The world tells us one thing and Jesus will tell us another. The dilemma for us is, “Who are we going to listen to”?
Jesus is going to use two metaphors that give us a picture of how we should live out our lives as we await the return of the Lord or until our days on earth are over.
There is one word that really sums up the way we are to live our lives as citizens in a foreign land. That word is INFLUENCE.
In the final beatitude, Jesus described the attitude the world would often display towards the citizens of the kingdom in verses 10-12. Now Jesus is going to describe the opposite, the influence of the kingdom upon the world.
Jesus tells us that we are to be the salt of the earth and the light to the world. Today we are going to see how those metaphors apply to those who call themselves Christians and in seeing how they apply, we will learn how we should live our lives.
We will see how we are to influence the world like salt and light.
Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are to be:
I. SALT OF THE EARTH V 13
What is it about salt that caused Jesus to say that we are to be the salt of the earth?
A. Salt is a preservative. READ VERSE 13
In the ancient world salt was used to keep food from going bad. Even today it is stilled used in that manner in parts of the world where there is not much refrigeration available.
When things are dead or dying, they are in a state of decay. Salt was used to slow down or stop the decay. The salt could not take something that was already in a state of decay and reverse it; the salt could keep it from getting worse.
We are living in a world that is in a state of decay because it is dying. Christians are to be the agent that keeps the world from decaying. We are to be the preservative for the dying world. 1 JOHN 2:17 And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.
Christians are primarily responsible for the preservation of morality, justice and social conscience. God has also instituted the state and the home for these purposes, but without the church even these lack salt and light. Historically, the church can be credited for many of the advances in science, medicine, prison reform, orphanages, abolition of slavery and child labor, education and literacy. The kingdom of God has, indeed, flavored this world in significant ways.
Can you imagine what the world would be like today without the influence of the church and Christians?
1 PETER 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
2 CORINTHIANS 2:14-15 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
Christians are called to influence the society so that it does not smell bad.
For salt to work, it has to be mixed in with what it is trying to preserve. As Christians we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. We are to be involved in all aspects of life and we are to be the preserving agent of the world. We are to get out of the salt shaker and into the world.
B. Salt adds flavor to things. (makes you want more)
Have you ever eaten something that needed some flavor added to it? Mashed potatoes without some salt is bland. There many other foods that need a little salt lift to make them have good flavor.
When Jesus calls us the salt of the earth, He is saying that we are to bring flavor and spice to life.
The tragedy is that so often people have connected Christianity with precisely the opposite. They have connected Christianity with that which takes the flavor out of life.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.”
In the past the church has been against so many things that it looked like all Christians were abut was to make sure that everyone lived a miserable life.
That was sort of the impression I had about Christians until I started hanging out with Robyn’s friends when we were dating. I actually saw that it was all right for a Christian to enjoy life.
Christians should be the ones who add flavor to life, that make life worth living. We should be having the most fun of anyone.
Too many times we focus on the things that we should not be doing and make it look like without those things we cannot have fun.
I guarantee you one thing. When you love Jesus, you life will have flavor and that flavor needs to be spread to other people. There are a lot of people who are living a bland life and they need us to add the flavor of Jesus to their lives!
C. Salt represented purity
Salt was connected with purity. No doubt its glistening whiteness made the connection easy. The Romans said that salt was the purest of all things, because it came from the purest of all things, the sun and the sea. Salt was indeed the most primitive of all offerings to the gods, and to the end of the day the Jewish sacrifices were offered with salt. So then, if the Christian is to be the salt of the earth he must be an example of purity.
We are to be pure, we are not to be 25% Jesus and 75% world or 90% Jesus and 10% world. We are to be 100% pure Jesus. In other words we are to totally belong to Jesus.
A warning about becoming tasteless.
A. How do we become “tasteless”?
Technically, salt (i.e., sodium chloride) cannot lose its saltiness. It is an extremely resilient chemical. The word Jesus uses would be more literally translated, “is defiled.” Although salt cannot become unsalty, it can be mixed with other substances
If you take a glass of water and add a cup of salt to it, you can taste the salt, take that cup of salt and add it to 100 gallons of water and you will no longer taste it.
The salt of Jesus day came from salt marshes. If the salt had too many impurities in it, it was useless. When the salt was stored, the salt that was close to the ground would become useless because it would get wet and combine itself with the ground.
Christian’s lose their saltiness when they become too mix in the world. They become so much like the world that they lose their flavoring capabilty.
The word that is translated “tasteless” is also translated “Fools” and “Foolish”
1. ROM 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
2. 1CO 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Disciples who loss their “saltiness” are making fools of themselves according to this passage could also read.
B. The fate of “tasteless” salt
When salt was so contaminated that it could not be used, it was put on the roadways to be trampled. The contaminated salt would ruin the farm ground so it was put in the streets to be walked on.
When we become “tasteless” Christians, we are of no use to anyone.
Just think what would happen if the salt that you use at home all the sudden had no flavor? What would you do with it? Use more? You would toss it out.
Jesus wants us to be an influence on the world that we live in.
Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are to be:
II. THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD V14-15
What is it about light that caused Jesus to say that we are to be the light of the world?
A. The light exposes things, sometimes light serves as a warning light.
Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tightfisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things, I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look at what you got!” Some people change their ways when they see the light, others only when they feel the heat.
I my have told you about a car Misty and I went to see in the dark. (EXPLAIN)
The world is living in darkness and it is the job of Christians to shed the light of God’s truth into the world.
Many times we get upset at the way people act, but we have to remember that they do not always have the light of Jesus to tell them what is right and what is wrong and why.
The light of the gospel will reveal what is truth and what is masquerading as truth.
B. The light guides by lighting a path
Have you ever walked around in the dark and stubbed your toe or ran into something? In our house we have small night-lights that pierce the darkness so that we can see.
We are to help guide people with the light of the gospel.
So then a Christian must make the way clear to others. That is to say, A Christian must of necessity be an example. One of the things, which this world needs more than anything else, is people who are prepared to be focus of goodness. We need people who will shine in the light of truth and who will shine the light of truth.
In order for us to expose and guide as Jesus wants us to we must :
A. Be visible v14
Notice in verse 14 that Jesus says that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. We are called to be visible. If we lock ourselves up in the church or hide in the hills, then our influence cannot be seen.
Christians are called to stand out in the crowd.
When we light a candle or shine a flashlight, we do not try to keep all the light for ourselves, it is also meant to benefit others by shedding light where they need to see.
So, then, Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.” A man’s Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men.
Further, this Christianity should not be visible only within the Church. A Christianity whose effects stop at the church door is not much use to anyone. It should be even more visible in the ordinary activities of the world. Our Christianity should be visible in the way we treat a shop assistant across the counter, in the way we order a meal in a restaurant.
Jesus did not say, “You are the light of the Church”; he said, “You are the light of the world,” and in a man’s life in the world his Christianity should be evident to all.
B. We must radiate v15
Jesus is the true light and we are reflecting His light to the world. In order for us to be able to reflect a bright light, we must be close to the source, Jesus!
The closer we are to him, the brighter our light will shine.
How does our light radiate? Though what we do.
EPHESIANS 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
We are to bring light and warmth to people. We do this by bringing people the peace and comfort of God.
If we are going to do this, we must be an active part of peoples’ lives!
Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven are to:
III. BRING GLORY TO GOD V16
1 PETER 2:11-12 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
To God be the glory. When people see what we are doing we must make sure they know we are doing it in the name of Jesus. When people know that we care, they will care about what we know.
If the last point was not added, then it would seem that we are to be self-serving, self-glorifying, but our works are not to our own credit, but for God.
The Pharisees acted to be seen of men. True Christians act to glorify God, and care little what people may think of them, except as by their conduct others may he brought to honor God, yet they should so live that people may see from their conduct what is the proper nature of their faith in Jesus!
British sign painter Gary Bevans is copying the ceiling of Rome’s Sistine chapel onto the ceiling of his modest parish church in West Sussex, England. Of course, the copy will never be the same as Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Vatican, but it will look a great deal like it. We wear the name Christian, which means we are "like Christ." Of course, we will never be exactly like him, but we can be enough like him that people will recognize the resemblance.
How now shall we live? We live our lives in such a way that we are in influence on society. We are to bring flavor to the world, we are to preserve this decaying world and we are to let our light shine before men so in such a way that God is glorified.
In 1969, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. His footprints are still there. They will be there a thousand years from now! It is very possible that your influence will last as long!
Who are you influencing right now?