Summary: The Christian is the salt and light and has more influence than he can imagine

“Christian Influence”

June 1, 2014

Matthew 5:10-16

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“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 underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It is interesting to me in this, Jesus’ first public sermon, that He begins with how to be blessed by God, then talks about being persecuted for living that way and then encourages and instructs God’s people to be an influence anyway. He says you will be blessed of God if you act and live and ‘be’ a certain way (the Beatitudes) but you will be persecuted by the world for living this way. Live this way anyway, He says. Let your light shine.

Jesus said,

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” John 12:36

I think the Christian needs to come to a place where we understand that we are different from the world. We are children of the Light. Because of that difference we will be put down, mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted in various ways. Even in America where we were formed as a Christian nation the Child of Light will suffer persecution to a certain degree. In Sudan and many other countries you may be arrested, put in prison and executed simply for being different from the Muslim believers. We have been reading about one Christian pastor on death row right now for the crime of being a Christian. I wonder how many we never hear about who suffer the same fate. And yet in spite of such persecution these courageous believers choose to let their light shine. They know they do not belong to this world. The Christian has a citizenship not of this world.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5

Do you ever feel like you are a round peg trying to fit in a square hole or a square peg trying to fit in a round hole? Do you feel like you are just a little different; that you don’t quite fit in? Don’t be surprised by that. You are as different from the world as light is from darkness. And you will suffer in some ways for that. I have found, though, that many people are attracted to the light. They come to the light. When we live as Children of the Light we will offend some people but we will bless many others.

Well, Jesus said that we are to be the light. We are to be salt. What does that mean? Let me suggest a couple of things to you.

First of all, Salt and light both purifies. Back in 1967 I was a young private first class in the Army, stationed in Maryland at a Nike Missile site. Even though I was a Military Policeman, I was pretty low on the totem pole so I had to do some outside yard work. In the course of my work I came in contact with some poison ivy. I HATE poison ivy! It is itchy and miserable! My legs swelled up to twice their size. I was in misery. I went to sick bay and they gave me calamine lotion. It was about as effective as using a garden hose to pole jump. I didn’t work at all. I suffered for a week or so with no relief. They one day as I was laying in my bunk in misery, one of the guys asked if I wanted to go with them to the ocean. I hesitated because I wasn’t feeling so great but I had never seen the ocean, growing up in Minnesota, so I said, “Sure!!”

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