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Summary: The good news of the kingdom of heaven includes the truth that you were created for significance. But before you run too far too fast, let me point out that Jesus is basically saying, “You are the salt and the light, but you may not be fulfilling God’s p

People Like You Make the World Go ‘Round

Matthew 5:13-16

Pastor Jim Luthy

Did you hear the story this week about the family of Major Hal Sellers? Major Sellers is a 13-year veteran currently assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion of the U.S. Marine Corps. About two weeks ago, Major Sellers and his battalion were deployed to an undisclosed location in the Middle East, undoubtedly preparing for war. Can you even imagine how difficult it must be to leave a wife and three young boys behind and be willing to die for your country? My wife left for two nights to visit her mother and I was in a near panic!

The situation for Major Sellers, however, was multiple times more difficult. The youngest of Major Sellers’ three sons, 4-month old Dillon, is living on borrowed time awaiting a heart transplant. His heart has a syndrome that makes it unable to pump or circulate blood. The medical center’s transplant coordinator says “every day could be an end-of-life issue for him.” His son’ condition made the prospect of heading to war especially difficult.

The Marine Corps offered Major Sellers a desk job at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center near his home, but after what his wife Betsy described as “a lot of soul searching,” Major Sellers opted to leave his son in the care of the hospital and go with his battalion to the edge of war. Betsy Sellers said, “I am doing what I have to do, and my husband is doing what he has to do. We’re doing what we need to do for our family and, hopefully, for other families.”

When I heard this story, I nearly cried. People like Hal and Betsy Sellers give me courage to do the right thing. Put aside for a moment what you think about the prospect of war in Iraq. People like this make the world go ‘round. They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They put the needs of others above their own needs, and in so doing they’ve preserved the hearts of men and women and have brought to light the very nature of God.

Climb with me back to the hillside where Jesus sat down and began to preach the Sermon on the Mount. He began teaching his disciples—a band of ordinary, unschooled men. By the time he finished, great crowds of all walks of life had gathered around him and were amazed at what he said.

Last week we marveled at how refreshing it must have been to hear Jesus say that the kingdom of heaven belonged to everyone, from the spiritual zeros to the spiritual heroes. He described a kingdom so contrary to the experience of the crowds that had gathered. They must have been so excited to hear such good news from a man who spoke with such authority.

Now Jesus will turn and speak directly to them about their created purpose and their own fulfillment of that purpose:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:13-16, NIV)

Jesus is saying to the gathering crowd of “God’s grubby people,” “YOU are the salt of the earth.” “YOU are the light of the world.” He’s not saying those men in the phylacteries are the salt of the earth. He’s not saying, “These 12 men and no one but these 12 men are the light of the world.” He’s saying that the peasant by the scraggly tree over there is the salt of the earth. He’s saying that the half-blind Syrian woman who worked her way closer just to catch a blur of the Teacher who was amazing her is the light of the world.

The pastor is not the salt of the earth. The celebrity on television is not the light of the world. You are the salt! You are the light! You make the world go ‘round! You. And you. And you. All of us are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Jesus has just announced that the kingdom of heaven belongs to all and that everyone has an important role on this planet and in his kingdom. This is great news to anyone who is dealing with shame and guilt, overloaded with the pain of an abusive past, or struggling with issues of self-worth. “Jesus includes me?” “I am the salt of the earth?” “I am the light of the world?” “Lil’ ol’ me? Oh, I’m so honored!”

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