Summary: A short talk encouraging believers to be conservers and preservers in our community, bright lights together, speaking, acting and serving, but never watering down the commands of Jesus.
Salt: Imagine a world without electricity, without a fridge, without a freezer, and without the Iceland shop on our High Street. Imagine photographs or film of a ship at sea hauling in nets bulging with wriggling, writhing fish. Imagine the fish being packed for the journey back home, packed with massive amounts of salt – a school of fresh fish and barrels of salt.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (5:13). In the time of Jesus salt was primarily used as a preservative, but like now it was also used for flavour.
Jesus called his disciples then and now to be preservers. We’re called to spread ourselves in and around the things of this world to act as a preservative and to add gritty, tongue-tingling flavour. We, his modern disciples are to be conservatives in the very best sense of the word, working to prevent decay, working to preserve and keep fresh, and packing our community with gritty, thought-provoking flavour. Friends, you are the salt of the earth.
Where are you being called to conserve and preserve morality, righteousness, marriage, parenting skills, educational standards, issues of right and wrong etc.?
In his letter to the Colossian Church St. Paul wrote this: “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4: 5-6). Be wise …make the most …seasoned with salt …to answer everyone. Friends, you are the salt of the earth, filled with God’s empowering spirit to add salty flavour & preservative.
Light: Imagine places in our world where there is no artificial light. No street lamps, no cars with headlights, no Canary Wharf-style towering buildings, just countryside, fields, farms, dwellings, rivers, animals, people, villages with no electricity. Imagine the darkness as evening comes. The light of the sun goes, the moon is hidden. Only the stars shine.
As I flew by plane over Kenya in early 2005 it was late evening. I looked down and saw only the occasional, tiny single light. Other than that it was thick inky black – unlike flying back to the UK when street lights everywhere are visible.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (5:14). Imagine being surrounded by complete and utter darkness, walking along a dark, muddy path. You reach a point where finally you see a distant great light. It is Jerusalem, shining brightly with torches, spreading out its light to the surrounding fields. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (5:16). We’re not just salt and we’re not just light. We are salt and light. We are to speak positively about conserving and preserving morality and justice, and we are to act as lights in our community. Our good deeds should cause people to stop and say, “Why are you doing that? There must be a God!”
Don’t feel you’re insignificant or can’t do it. You can; and together our individual lights join together to form a light on a hill that cannot be hidden. Together, as the Church, our good deeds should be noticed.
St. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). God has work for us to do! God has words and deeds full of salt for us to speak.
Jesus was salt and light. He lived the perfect life. His words were gritty. He spoke gritty words full of salty flavour into situations. His actions shed light into dark areas of life and the world. He obeyed and fulfilled in himself the prophets and the Laws of God (5:17).
Filled with God’s Holy Spirit we will be salt and light, speaking and acting with an attractive flavour as bright lights in our community; but we must be careful not to water down or diminish what it means to follow and to obey. Verses 19 & 20 make that clear. We are to live out and teach the commands of Jesus.