Summary: This message looks at what happens when we behave the way we are supposed to behave.
Over the past four weeks I’ve been speaking about what Jesus said about our behaviour, and if you were looking for a specific list of what we can do and can’t do you’ve been disappointed. Jesus didn’t provide a detailed list but instead insisted that our relationship with God would lead to proper behaviour. And he did provide some warnings telling people that there were certain behaviours that would indicate that there were problems with that relationship, and even indicated that people who exhibited those behaviours weren’t in a relationship with him, regardless of what they might claim.
The problem with lists is that if anything falls outside the list we assume that behaviour is alright. And so we hear people who are involved in behaviour who are saying “Well Jesus didn’t say anything about . . .” And you can fill in the blank.
And so Jesus painted a picture with broad strokes, a picture of people who respected and loved God and one another. When Jesus was looking for a metaphor to describe those who behaved this way he reached out to and latched on to an unlikely pair. Jesus told those who followed him, that their behaviours would make them like Salt and Light. And while they might seem confusing to us to those he was talking to it was probably an “Ahhh!” moment.
We don’t know exactly who all had gathered around Jesus to hear him speak that day, but we have some hints. Back at the beginning of the chapter, when this day began, you might remember we were told in Matthew 5:1-2 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. Did you catch that, Jesus saw the crowds gathering but he went up to the mountainside and his disciples gathered around and he began to teach them.
So it was not crowds of semi interested people who had gathered around, it wasn’t the uninterested who were listening to the message that day it was people who were seeking the truth, who had already in some way committed themselves to following Jesus.
Now we don’t know who all was there that day but we were introduced to four of them not long before Jesus began to teach and it was the four fisherman, Andrew, Peter, James and John. Four fisherman and I’m pretty sure that they were the ones who had the eureka moment when Jesus talked about Salt and Light.
Salt and light, that was something they knew about because every night they made their way safely to shore by following the lights set out for them and every day they took the fish that they hadn’t sold fresh and they covered them in salt to preserve them for the next day. And so when Jesus looked out at his disciples and said “You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world” Andrew and Peter and James and John all looked at each other and went “Ahhh, salt and light, that’s cool.”
But here we are two thousand years later and instead of saying “ahhhh” we saying “Huh? Salt? Light?”
So what was it that Jesus was trying to say? What was it about salt and light that Jesus was trying to convey to those who sat around him on the hill that sunny Palestinian afternoon? And what is his message for us 2000 years later. What was it about salt and light that should be evidenced in those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ?
The First thing is that Salt and Light Are Distinctive. I’ve never heard anyone say “Hey what’s that strange taste” when they try something that is salty, It is very distinctive and defining, salt is not confused with other flavours, you don’t hear people say “You know it’s either salt or vanilla I’m not sure which.”
You might hear someone say “that is really salty” or “This needs more salt” but for the average person they don’t confuse the flavour of salt with other flavours.
It is the same way with light, you might hear someone say “What is that light?” but you never hear about light “Is that a light or a . . .?” I’m not even sure what you might possibly confuse a light with, perhaps a reflection but that is still a light of sorts.
And so Christ is telling those who gathered to hear him that day that if they chose to follow him they would be known as his followers, there would be something distinctive in their lives that people would know that they were a Christ follower. A number of years ago someone was telling me about a person who worked in the same office as they did. “We’ve worked together for years” the person told me “And I just found out they are a Christian, isn’t that funny?” No actually it’s kind of sad. We are not called to be the same as everyone else we are called to be different.