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Summary: Living in a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel, Christ followers are salt and light because of the One they follow.

This message is an edited version of a sermon given at Loving God Fellowship. Copyright © 2008 Loving God Fellowship, Inc. http://www.LovingGodFellowship.org . Click to have messages emailed to you as they are made available. You are encouraged to share this message with those you know that are hungry for God’s Word.

Being Salty and Bright

By Rev. Greg Johnson

Matthew 5:13-16

When comparing believers with those who consider themselves atheists or agnostics, the Barna Group found believers to be more positive, generous, and socially active, as reflected in these behaviors:

Likelihood to vote:

Active-faith: 89 percent

No-faith: 78 percent

Being active in their communities:

Active-faith: 68 percent

No-faith: 41 percent

Personally helping homeless or poor people:

Active-faith: 61 percent

No-faith: 41 percent

Yearly donations to charitable causes:

Active-faith: $1,500

No-faith: $200

Focus on living a comfortable, balanced life:

Active-faith: 4 percent

No-faith: 12 percent

Focus on accumulating wealth:

Active-faith: 2 percent

No-faith: 10 percent

Feeling of being at peace

Active-faith: 90 percent

No-faith: 67 percent

"Study Sizes Up Gaps Between Christians, Atheists, and Agnostics," www.Christianpost.com (6-12-07)

These statistics are of no surprise to the Christ follower. Jesus said in the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV) ""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 by men. {14} "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} 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. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Living in a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel, Christ followers are salt and light because of the One they follow.

Salt speaks of inward character that influences a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel. At the beginning of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives 8 qualities of character that is given to a citizen of the Kingdom of God. They are commonly referred to as The Beatitudes. Jesus said (Matthew 5:3-12 NIV) ""Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {4} Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. {5} Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. {6} Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. {7} Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. {8} Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. {9} Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. {10} Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. {12} Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." It’s this inward character that influences a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel.

Christ followers receive their inward character from the One they follow – Jesus. Jesus plants these eight seeds of character within each individual that becomes a citizen of the Kingdom of God through the new birth that Jesus describes in John Chapter three. The water of God’s Word hydrates the seeds of character and the power of the Holy Spirit causes the inward character of the Christ follower to grow. The result is good fruit that influences a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel.

Light speaks of the outward testimony of good works that points people to God. It’s the outward testimony of a Christ follower that points people to God. It’s a whole lot more of what they do instead of what they say. Actions speak so much louder than words.

Let me tell you about Evelyn, a precious Christ follower that is a part of the Loving God Fellowship (LGF) Salem Campus. Evelyn is 85 years old and was in Wal Mart with her husband this past week when she fell and broke her hip. She was taken to the hospital and had surgery that night replacing her hip with an artificial one along with a blood transfusion. The next morning, Becky and I went to the hospital to pray for Evelyn. She was sitting up in a chair surrounded by her loving family. It was obvious that Evelyn was in a lot of pain, but what she did before we left was an outward testimony of good works that points people to God. She pulled me and Becky close and said “I want you two to call me anytime with anything I can pray with you about.” Amazing. She just broke her hip, had major surgery and was sitting up in a chair for the first time after surgery; her light was shining bright. Doctors and nurses will be pointed to God through Evelyn shining her light. It may be the only light they see in the dark world of sickness and disease that they operate within.

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