Summary: Jesus’ call to be salt and light is Jesus’ call to be offensive. Only when we are on the offense will we score for Jesus.
Please e-mail me with any comments or if you use any part of this at your church at Mail4ChrisR@aol.com. I would love to hear about it. God Bless! - Chris
This time of the year is a little disappointing for anyone from Cincinnati. Why? Because football season just got underway. The Cincinnati Bengals, the local NFL franchise, has not had a winning season in twelve years. So it was not long after moving to Indiana that I became a Colts fan. It was an easy exchange.
One thing I like about the Colts is Tony Dungee. Dungee is in his second season as the Colts head-coach. Coach Dungee is a defensive specialist. He knows how to run a defense. Defense is good. Defense is important. Defense is needed. Yet, Tony does need to know two more things about football in order to be successful. First, in order to win football games you must score points. Second, you can’t score points on defense.
If the cornerback intercepts the football that defensive player is now an offensive player. The same is true for a linebacker who picks up a fumble. Once these defensive players have possession of the football they are then on offense. They must try to score a touchdown.
In Matthew 5, Jesus explains to His disciples that they must be salt and light to the world. Light in darkness is obtrusive. Light in darkness will stand out. Light in a world filled with darkness will be offensive.
You see, Jesus’ call to be light is Jesus’ call to be offensive. Now, I don’t think Jesus meant that we should be rude, distasteful, or discriminatory. Being offensive does not mean that we should be judgmental. I don’t think that is how Jesus was telling us to be offensive.
Miriam-Webster Dictionary gives three definitions for the word offensive. I believe all three apply when we are being offensive light to a dark world.
The first definition is, “making an attack.” When we are light in darkness we are attacking that which is predominant … that which is prevailing. As we are aware in our day and time darkness is prevailing. We must make an offensive as light in the dark. The basis for the attack is not violence but instead the unexpected love and peace of Christ.
Second, “giving painful or unpleasant sensations.” The example the dictionary gave was like the odor of garbage. That is an offensive smell. The illustration Jesus is giving is that the foulness is overpowering the world and we need to bring the sweet sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch of grace. People are so used to the foulness of this world that our salt and light may be painful and unpleasant. It will be offensive.
The final definition is, “causing displeasure or resentment.” This is the result of being offensive. Just before Jesus calls His followers to be light, he warns that those who follow him, like the prophets, will suffer persecution. He said, “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!-for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” (Matt. 5 10-12, The Message)
We will be mocked. We will be put down. But we must be light, just as Jesus was persecuted to death but His light remained bright for the entire world to see. Again, the displeasure and resentment should not result from being rude or mean. Instead the resentment will be the consequence of being offensive to a socially relative culture. We must cause the displeasure of doing something good by sharing the news of Jesus the Christ. By being offensive in this way we will be resented by many. Yet, we must still be that offensive light shining in darkness.
By being light we are being offensive. We are making an attack. We are giving painful and unwelcome sensations to this dark world. We are causing displeasure and at times even resentment for ourselves by showing the love of God.
When we are light in darkness we are offensive, on the offense, and we will score for Jesus. We will plant seeds and win souls for Christ. We will introduce people to the transforming grace of God. When we are offensive we make our world a better place.
That’s what Jesus means as He tells us to be light in a dark and mixed up world. He wants us to be offensive.