Summary: What does it mean to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth? How can we faithfully represent Jesus in our world today?
Commander Hansen had no idea how or why his outpost was being attacked. The outpost where he was stationed was suddenly up against a very powerful enemy... one he had never encountered before. Oh, he had heard of them, sure, but he never expected that he would meet them head on. They had been at peace for over a hundred years. But there they were, attacking Commander Hansen and all those under his command. It was as if they would appear out of nowhere, stage an attack, and disappear again. And it would only be a matter of time until they completely destroyed the station, killing all of the inhabitants.
Commander Hansen, with his defenses already exhausted, did the only thing he could do: he sent out a plea for help. One ship received the communication and responded to it. Commander Hansen described to them what was happening, and the ship rushed to try to get there in time to help. But they failed. They were too far away to get there in time. The unknown enemy continued their assault on the outpost until there was nothing left.
The ship that Commander Hansen had been able to contact arrived too late to be of any help to Hansen or his outpost, but they were able to pursue the unknown enemy. And what was to follow was the first encounter between the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Romulans. Didn’t know you were getting a Star Trek Sermon today, did you? That episode first aired on December 13, 1966 and revealed a device that every Romulan warship would be equipped with: a cloaking device.
In Star Trek, a cloaking device is a piece of equipment built into space ships that has the ability to bend light around the ship so that the ship essentially becomes invisible. And only when they want to use their weapons do they need to disable their cloak and risk being detected.
One of the biggest problems that I believe we have in the church today is that we’ve got too many Christians living with a built in cloaking device. We go through life virtually undetected for what we are, and only occasionally do we lower our cloak so that we can be recognized as followers of Christ. And even when we do, it tends to be at very safe times, when we’re at church, when we meet another Christian for lunch, or when we attend religious events such as rallies or camps or concerts, women’s groups, men’s groups, Bible studies... and what we fail to remember is that we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
That’s the way that Jesus describes us in the passage that was read earlier. Jesus uses salt and light as metaphors for how His followers should operate. So what is it about salt and light? Well, one thing that salt and light have in common is:
They both have a dramatic impact on whatever they contact.
Think about salt for a minute. What qualities does salt have that makes it salt?
(It makes people thirsty, it spices things up, it’s a preservative, it enhances flavour.)
So what Jesus was saying was “Live the kind of a life that’s going to make people thirst for the truth about of Me, the kind of life that is going to spice things up by stimulating people to think about their values and their beliefs, the kind of life that is going to slow down the rate of moral decay in society, the kind of life that will show people that following Me will enhance their life... it won’t detract from it.”
Now think about light. What does light do?
(It illuminates, it exposes, it draws people toward it.)
There’s something about light that attracts. I remember as a kid growing up at my family’s cottage that there were always moths flying around the light bulb in my room. They were attracted to it.
One of my hobbies is designing websites, and for the past three years I’ve been designing the site for Bedford Days in Nova Scotia. Bedford Days is an annual weeklong celebration held along the Bedford Basin waterfront and features all kinds of events and bands and competitions. But the biggest draw they have is the firework display they put on. They’ll have 10,000 people come out to see some lights in the sky.
What was Jesus saying? “Live the kind of life that’s going to illuminate my truth to people, the kind of life that will expose you for who you are: a follower of Christ, the kind of life that will attract people Me, because ultimately I am the Light of Life” (see John 8:12).
This morning we’re wrapping up our Survivor: Sunrise series of messages. Last weekend several of us got together and watched the finale to Survivor: The Amazon and saw Jenna win as the only one not to have to listen to Jeff Probst tell her, “The tribe has spoken,” while extinguishing her torch. She was able to keep her torch lit. So today, we’re going to talk about what it takes for us to keep our torches lit… what it means for us to be the light of the world. And since the passage we’re looking at refers to us as both the light of the world and the salt of the earth, we’re going to combine the two. We’re going to take a look at what will enable us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.