Summary: A look at the kind of Christian who is salt and light.
Developing A Contagious Christian Character
There is a problem facing us as we approach this week’s theme: Were Christ to be bodily present in our church this Sunday, we would delight in introducing him to others.
This problem was summed up a number of years ago in a song called "Jacob’s Ladder," which topped the pop music charts. Huey Lewis sang about being pursued by a fat man who was selling salvation. It’s not too surprising that he responded by saying he was not in a hurry to think about such things and then added scathingly, "and I don’t want to be like you."
Most people won’t come right out and say it, but you’d better believe they’re thinking it. They’re not interested in committing their lives to Christ unless they observe attractive and consistent patterns of living in the Christians they know. Joe Aldrich, author of the book Life-Style Evangelism, put it like this: "Christians are to be good news before they share the good news."
Matthew 5:13-16 - "You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world - like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."
Though it’s tempting, to run ahead and talk about practical tips for communicating our faith would be premature. You see, before we can become highly contagious Christians, we must first live in a way that convinces the people around us that we actually have it ourselves!
Did you notice that in these verses where Jesus asserts that we are salt and light, he says nothing about what we have to say? He doesn’t give us a three point evangelistic sermon. He doesn’t teach them the four spiritual laws or the Roman Road presentation. He doesn’t even draw them the bridge illustration.
If we want to be the kind of high-impact salt and light Christians that Jesus said that we are to be, we’re going to have to first take some preliminary steps of self-examination and then be willing to make any needed character adjustments. We must start by making certain that the way we’re living backs up the words we’re speaking. To modify those song lyrics, we want people to observe our lives and think to themselves, "I didn’t think I’d ever feel such urgency about spiritual matters, but I sure wish I could be like them."
Jesus knew the importance of perceptions. That’s why He gave us such clear instructions about being salt and light. He knows that as you learn to live out these guidelines in tangible ways, people will begin to "see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Do you see what Jesus was getting at in these verses in Matthew 5? He was telling us that the attitudes and actions of each of His followers either draw people toward a relationship with God or push them further away. So Jesus was pleading with His people - then and now - to live in a way that would draw people toward the Father. Think about it: how we conduct our daily lives has implications that reach all the way into eternity.
1. Christians who repel the lost from Christ.
Salt and Light can be good. But it can also be bad if you have too much. Too much can be repulsive! How does food that has too much salt taste? What happens when someone approaches you on the highway with their high beam headlights?
The Christian who repels the lost is the salt that has lost its potency and the light that has been hidden. The Christian is not having the desired impact on the people around them.
Let me share with you three types of Christians that repel the lost from Christ.
1) In Your Face Christians
These are the hard sell, confrontational evangelists. They are the ones who pull up in the car next to you at the stoplight, and yell across to you, "Do you know you are going to hell without Christ."
2) Next, we have the … Holier-Than-Thou Christians
These are the smug and the self-righteous types. They have exchanged their priestly, Pharisaic garments for more contemporary clothing, but their hearts are just as judgmental. They make it plain that you probably couldn’t live up to their level of spirituality, so you might as well not try. You know the type don’t you?