Summary: An externally focused church makes a difference in the community through good works and living out the Gospel in their daily lives.
SALTY, SHINNY, AND REFLECTIVE
Text: Matthew 5:13-16
1. Illustration: What is an Externally Focused Church? It is a church that is "increasingly convinced that effectiveness is not measured by what happens inside the church but rather by the impact the people of the church have on their communities. They are engaging their communities with truth and grace, good news and good deeds" (Externally Focused Church, chp. 2).
2. The question the church needs to answer today is not how many people are in the pews, but how many of its members are making a difference in the community.
3. There are three essentials to being an Externally Focused Church...
4. Let's stand together as we read Matt. 5:13-16
Proposition: An externally focused church makes a difference in the community through good works and living out the Gospel in their daily lives.
Transition: First of all...
I. The Externally Focused Church Is Salty (13).
A. Salt Of The Earth
1. Does anyone remember the sitcom Different Strokes? It's the story of two brothers adopted by a wealthy man. The younger of the two brothers would look at his brother and say, "What you talking about Willis?"
2. You have to wonder if Jesus' disciples every looked at him and said, "What you talking about Jesus?"
3. Just after talking about the Beatitudes, Jesus says to them, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless."
A. Various scholars have emphasized different uses of salt in antiquity, such as a preservative or an agent regularly added to manure; but the use of salt here is as a flavoring agent: “if salt has become tasteless” (the Greek word can also mean “become foolish,” so it may include a play on words) (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament, Under: "Matthew 5:13-16 Real Discipleship").
B. Jesus was speaking of the status of His disciples ("You are") and their impact on the world.
C. His followers are the "seasoning" and "preservative" force of the world; i.e., in a sense they protect mankind from that which is "tasteless" (and hence no good) or decayed (and hence to be thrown away).
D. The phrase "if the salt have lost his savor" (literally, "become foolish"; that is, tasteless, bland) seems strange to us, since pure salt cannot lose its taste.
E. However, here "salt" is referring to Dead Sea salt obtained by merely evaporating some of its water.
F. The resultant salt was impure and with time would become nothing but a worthless, unusable residue.
G. Leviticus 2:13 called for Old Testament sacrifices to be seasoned with salt.
H. The salt was mixed in, not merely as a flavor and preservative, but as a symbol of the strength and truthfulness of the people's self-surrender as they declared their loyalty, dependence on God, and willingness to serve Him.
I. The savor of saltiness that Jesus had in mind is the blessedness of strong spiritual desires, sorrow over sin, unassuming gentleness, desire for righteousness, cheerful compassion, heart purity, and the promotion of peace with God—the very things He had just mentioned in the Beatitudes.
J. Jesus also showed believers are salt when they take up their cross in full dedication to the Lord, putting Him above all else (Horton, The Complete Biblical Library – Matthew, , 79-81).
4. If a seasoning has no flavor, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God.
5. If we are too much like the world, we are worthless. Christians should not blend in with everyone else.
6. Instead, we should affect others positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food (Life Application Study Bible, 1546).
B. Are You Salty?
1. Illustration: A strange sign greets visitors to Vienna, Austria. Translated from the German, it says, "Welcome to Vienna, where the salt is in the saltshaker." What they mean is that they "don't put salt on the streets in the winter"!
The church is the salt of the earth, but we do no good if we stay in the saltshaker. In the church. NOBODY LIKES SALT IN THE SHAKER BUT ALMOST EVERYONE LIKES SALT THAT IS SHAKEN, sprinkled into their life at just the right amount to bring the right flavor to the moment.
2. What will you do to increase your "saltiness" - to become more distinctively Christlike in your values and actions?
A. Acts 1:8 (NLT)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”