Summary: 1. Jesus was telling us not to live for the kingdom of the world, but the Kingdom of God. 2. Jesus is saying that we play an important role in the life of the world as salt and light. 3. Jesus was talking about a new way of obedience.
It is no accident that Jesus talked about us being salt and light immediately after he spoke the Beatitudes. It is in learning how to think as Jesus thought and live as he lived in submissions to God, that we become agents of healing and light in the world. It is when we live as people who do not live for the kingdom of this world, but the kingdom of God that our lives take on eternal value. It is not that God does not want to bless us here and now. He does want to, and he does. Every blessing we have comes from his hand. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). But when we do things simply because we think they will bring blessings from God, we are on the wrong track. Only when we begin to desire to live for God and his kingdom, do we know we are going the right direction. When we begin to want to take on God’s nature and be like him, we experience the transformation that can only come through him. When we live for the here and now we get our reward here and now. That is why Jesus said,
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.” Luke 6:24-25
1. Jesus was again telling us not to live for the kingdom of this world, but for the kingdom of God.
C. S. Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, has a special ministry to people with disabilities. She knows something about it since she is a quadriplegic – paralyzed from the neck down. At the age of 17 she was injured in a diving accident, and from that day to this someone has had to take care of her every need. It was not a fun journey, and you can read her story and her struggle in her book simply titled Joni. You might understand why she is looking forward to having a new body. In a recent devotional she wrote that there are those who “say that being so heavenly- minded does you no earthly good. Not so! Those whose minds are on heaven do earth a world of good. When you realize that your citizenship is in heaven, you begin to act as a responsible citizen should. You begin to invest wisely in relationships. Your conversations, goals, and motives become more pure and honest, and all of this serves you well not only in heaven but on earth. Heavenly-minded people are for earth’s highest good.”
Jesus was saying, “Aim at the good life and you will miss it every time. Aim at the kingdom and you get the kingdom and the good life as well. He said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
2. Jesus is saying that we play an important role in the life of the world as salt and light.
I have read elaborate explanations which try to describe how salt can possibly lose its flavor, but I think it misses the point of what Jesus was trying to do. After all, salt is salt and it does not matter whether you keep it in the refrigerator or cupboard, it does not spoil or lose its flavor. Again, Jesus is employing statements which shock in order to get people to think. Tasteless salt is an oxymoron. If it was possible for salt to lose its flavor, people would simply through it out.
In the same way, people never light a candle and put it under a bowl. That defeats the whole purpose of the light and it would go out. It would seem ridiculous, especially to people whose only source of light at night was a candle or small lamp. Why light a candle if you are only going to put it out?
In the same way, why become a Christian if you only want to be “saved” and do not intend on being a light to the world or make it more palatable? What good dows it do to become a Christian if you are going to be like everybody else? The answer is: Your life would become tasteless, dark, useless to the kingdom. But if you see your responsibility and privilege to, as it says in the vows of membership, “to live a life that becomes the Gospel,” then your life has meaning and purpose. There is some value in becoming a Christian, but only if we live the life and daily strive to be a disciple of Jesus.