Summary: A message focusing on the Christian’s call to influence his/her world.
It is told that once during the Civil War, a detachment of General Sheridan’s men, caught in a tight corner, broke and fled and galloped away for their lives; and just then Sheridan himself came riding up. Taking in the situation at a glance, he rose in his stirrups, waved his sword above his head, and shouted, “Men, we are going the other way!” Whereupon the fleeing host stopped dead, and fro a moment there was not a sound, but then with a great cry they turned, wheeled in their tracks, and smashed their way back to victory. (James S. Stewart, cited in Bryant, 1000 “New” Illustrations, s.v. “Influence,” 123).
Have you ever wanted that kind of influence in this life? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to command that kind of confidence in people? At times, we seem lucky to influence our families, let alone the world. So, many people, rather than leading armies to victory, live out their lives in the corner—not making much of an influence on anyone.
It should not be that way for the child of God. As we continue our look at the Sermon on the Mount, I am confronted today with a text that cries out for our attention. You have heard these words before—here them again today, but really here them. . . (read text) . . . My friends, in this morning’s text, Jesus told his disciples that they were to make a difference in the world. While we may not command “armies,” each one of us here today are part of a great army of faith. Listen carefully, we can make a difference in this world! How? Let’s look at three different exhortations that grow out of our text—by embracing them, we will influence our world for Christ.
I. Work Quietly to Preserve the World.
A. Among salt’s many uses, the most important in the ancient world was preservation.
1. Without salt, food storage would have been virtually impossible, for the simple reason that meat decays.
2. Rubbed into meat, salt would allow the meat to be stored for long times without fear of decay.
3. Keep in mind, several of the disciples were fishermen, and would have been more than familiar with the practice of salting down their catches.
B. Since the fall of humanity, the world has been marked by corruption.
1. Think of current headlines facing us—corruption in high finance, children kidnaped from their own homes, world leaders assassinated, masses of people killed in the name of religion, governments deceiving their own people.
2. Friends, it has always been this way—I’m not sure that the world is really worse than before—we just hear about these things so quickly.
3. From the moment Adam and Eve took it upon themselves to become “like God,” the human race has seem bent and determined to destroy itself—to allow itself to slip away into rottenness.
C. However, like salt, believers can help stop decay.
1. R. C. H. Lenski said of our text: “All that Christ has in mind with the figure of salt is that his disciples check the moral corruption of the world, so that it does not quickly perish in its own moral rottenness.” (Lenski, 199)
2. Now, salt does its work in a quiet manner—it is not a “flashy” method of preservation—you cannot even “see” it work.
3. So, the Christian commits to living out his or her life, and touching this world in an incredible way.
a. We commit ourselves to being people of integrity.
b. We commit ourselves to loving those around us, even as Christ has called us to do.
c. As we commit ourselves to live what we say we believe: God will use our lived testimony to his glory and honor.
Transitional Sentence: Again, listen very carefully, for this truth, of letting our lives be our testimony must be balanced by the second admonition of our text.
II. Shine Brightly to Drive out the Darkness.
A. Light cannot be held back by the darkness.
1. For centuries the images of light and dark have been understood as symbols of good and evil, respectively.
2. The image that Christ used is also universally understood—light dispels darkness.
B. The darkness in this world is often overwhelming.
1. Everywhere around me, evil seems to be winning the day.
2. There are times, I wonder, I truly wonder, if our efforts are in vain.
3. How can we fight such darkness as is in this world?
C. We must openly shine our lights for all to see.
1. There are those today who would tell you to stay quiet in your faith: don’t upset people with talk about Jesus; don’t be a fanatic; let your light shine—just have a room darkening lampshade over it.