Summary: As believers we are empowered and called to be people of influence. We are to be salt and light in this world
We will be looking at Matthew 5:13-16 this morning.
If you do not have a Bible please take out the insert in the bulletin and the Scriptures will be on it.
I have several continual prayer requests. One of them is simply, “Lord, let me a person of influence to my family, my church and my community.”
I will not always be in a position of power but I am always in a position of influence. I may not be the one in charge of a project or community cause but I am always an influencer because of my relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit working through me.
As we look at Matthew 5:13-16 this morning I want us to keep in mind that God calls His children to be agents of influence in a decaying and dying world. A life lived for the kingdom of God can have immeasurable influence on its surroundings.
(TRANSITION) In his book Has Christianity Failed You? Ravi Zacharias points to one of the greatest proofs for the truth of Christ and the reality of his resurrection: the changed lives of Christians. He writes:
"During the course of nearly 40 years, I have traveled to virtually every continent and seen or heard some of the most amazing testimonies of God’s intervention in the most extreme circumstances. I have seen hardened criminals touched by the message of Jesus Christ and their hearts turned toward good in a way that no amount or rehabilitation could have accomplished. I have seen ardent followers of radical belief systems turned from being violent, brutal terrorists to becoming mild, tenderhearted followers of Jesus Christ. I have seen nations where the gospel, banned and silenced by governments, has nevertheless conquered the ethos and mind-set of an entire culture."
Zacharias gives many examples of Christ’s power to transform lives but example is very appropriate for us this morning. Zacharias writes of A.N. Wilson a noted atheist:
“The British author A. N. Wilson, who only a few years ago was known for his scathing attacks on Christianity...celebrated Easter [in 2009] at a church with a group of other church members, proclaiming that that the story of the Jesus of the Gospels is the only story that makes sense out of life and its challenges. [Wilson said], 'My own return to faith has surprised none more than myself...My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known—not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in light of the resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.'”
(TRANSITION) Notice what this former atheist states as the human cause of his return to faith in Christ, “...the lives and examples of people I have known...” One of the most powerful tools we have in our Christian walk is influence. We are, because of our relationship with Christ, salt and light. We are called to influence our neighbors and our community through the gospel of Christ. Let’s look at what Jesus teaches about how we are to be a positive influence to the world around us.
READ: Matthew 5:13-16
Remember that Jesus is preaching a sermon. Sometimes because of the way many of our Bibles have paragraph titles we think there is some sort of break and possibly even a different thought altogether. Last week we looked at The Beatitudes (MT 5:1-12) but verse 13-16 are not necessarily a separate teaching - they are connected to what Jesus is teaching in The Beatitudes.
In The Beatitudes we discovered that because of Christ and our faith in Him we are blessed - no matter what circumstances of life bring. Now Jesus is telling us in verses 13-16 that because we have had the blessing of salvation pronounced over us we are to live lives of influence.
Jesus uses two natural metaphors to give us a picture of how we are agents of influence in our world: salt and light. However, as we think about what it means to be salt and light we are confronted with some tension.
I belong to a heavenly kingdom that is pure and peaceful; full of life and life giving.
I live in an earthly kingdom that is decaying and dying; dark and decadent.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this tension in Philippians 1. He knew that death would usher him into the heavenly kingdom but he also understood that remaining in this world gave him the opportunity to influence others to Christ. He considered both sides of the coin as a GAIN. To be with Jesus would be awesome but to stay here and preach the gospel is awesome too.
Jesus understands this tension (because He too lived in this world but also knew the splendor of heaven) and offers us a solution to heal the tension so that we can be about the Father’s business.