Summary: Jesus asks us to be both salt AND light to impact the world around us for him. We need to be both, not one or the other. It’s a challenge!
Making Jesus better known to others will complicate your life, but the rewards are out of this world! Getting married, or having children complicates things; but they’re worth it. Spending time with people who don’t know Jesus will complicate your life, but it’s so worth it. Ask a mother a few weeks after giving birth: Is it worth the time, the exhaustion, the pain, the sweat and tears and the money? She’ll probably say, “I’m tired, it’s hard work, it’s not easy – but I love this baby! Yes, it’s worth it!” Impacting your world, and the people in it, will cost time and money as you buy lunch, pay for a coffee, make a long phone call, or change your arrangements to sit with someone who is hurting; but what an investment it is when we invest in the lives of people and their eternal future. No wonder Jesus said, “Store up for yourself treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:20-21).
(Read Matthew 5: 13-15)
Are you salt? Are you light? Are you both? What does Jesus mean when he says, “You are the salt of the earth”? If we’re the salt of the Earth does that mean Christians are meant to bring about high blood pressure amongst each other and amongst those who are not-yet-Christians? No, that’s not what Jesus meant, but there are three possibilities:
1: Salt makes us thirsty. So as we get sprinkled into the lives of other people, our Christian saltiness will cause others to be thirsty for God.
2: Salt adds a zing and a spice to bland food. I know, too much is bad for you but forget that for a moment. The point is that salt, when poured out, adds taste.
3: Salt preserves. It holds back decay. But in all 3 cases the salt has to be used and poured out. Salt only preserves when it is up close.
Which of the three does Jesus mean? I don’t know. Quite possibly all three and we can’t be sure. However, we can be sure that salt left in a grinder does nothing. Becky Pippert once wrote that ‘unless salt gets poured out of the shaker it remains a mere table ornament’. Salt in the bin at the side of the road is pointless if it is meant to be melting the ice!
You are the salt of the earth. It’s about a life that’s attractive and perhaps even gritty; a life that prompts others to be thirsty for God as they see him at work in us and through us; a way of life and an attitude to people that seeks to hold back moral decay in families, in society, the church and in our own homes.
Being the salt of the earth spoken of by Jesus involves considerable potency and close proximity. We will be considerably potent as salt only by developing our personal relationship with God and with his Church, in prayer, worship and the scriptures.
Steven Furtick leads a Church of 9000 people in America. In a recent article he said this: ‘One of the greatest [criticisms of today’s Church] is that it’s malnourished. From people who leave these churches, you hear, “I wasn’t getting fed.” Or, “I just want some deeper teaching.” From people outside these churches, you hear, “Too much milk, not enough meat.”’ Steven’s conclusion is simple: ‘Most …Christians aren’t malnourished because of what they’re fed on Sunday. They’re malnourished because they don’t feed themselves Monday [to] Saturday’. Steven goes on to say that if Sunday is your only meal of the week you will be malnourished, regardless of whether Sunday’s meal is milky or meaty. Church Pastors must serve up hot, fresh food every time we preach. However, believers must feed ourselves day by day from God’s word. I get hungry every few hours. I physically could not wait seven days between meals. Neither can my spirit thrive if I wait seven days between meals for the soul.
There’s no short-cut to being high quality salt, highly potent; but it is worth it, provided we put that considerable salty potency into use, in close proximity to people. Salt that’s up close, rubbed in, packed around meat or fish will work wonders. Christians like us need to be salty and involved in the lives of people who don’t yet know Christ. If all of our friends are Christians we’ve got a problem – and I know too many Christians who only have Christian friends. I was speaking to a Christian lady from another Church last year and she said, “I’ve got too many friends already and they are all Christians.” Now I don’t know if she meant Facebook but that’s a problem. I spoke to a lady from another Church this week. She said, “I’ve not got lots of friends but they are all Christians. What can I do?” And we discussed inviting a few neighbours around for a cup of tea to get to know them better, creating an opportunity to be salt that is up close, poured out, and sprinkled into the lives of people who don’t yet know Jesus.