Summary: In our Scripture today, Jesus is saying that as the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, how we live and what we do is supposed to somehow draw those who are far from God to Jesus. We do this by sharing our faith
When it comes to sharing our faith, many of us have some anxiety about doing so. The idea that we have to talk to somebody about our faith is nerve wracking. Many of us want to but fear usually keeps us from doing it. Here are some of the fears that have been mentioned to me: "I am afraid I might do more harm than good." "I don't know what to say." "I may not be able to have all the answers." "I may invade someone's privacy." "I am afraid I might fail." But perhaps the most common fear, however, is that of being rejected. A recent survey by the Billy Graham Association asked, "What is your greatest hindrance in witnessing?" Fifty-one percent said it was the fear of how the other person would react! Today, we are going to deal with the anxieties and insecurities about sharing the Good News.
In our Scripture today, Jesus is saying that as the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, how we live and what we do is supposed to somehow draw those who are far from God to Jesus. God is calling all of creation home and wants to deliver the invitation through us. As incredible as what Jesus is saying is, to whom he is saying it is just as remarkable. Our Scripture comes from the Sermon on the Mount. It is the most well-documented and influential sermon Jesus ever preached. At the beginning of the chapter, we are told that Jesus was surrounded by a huge crowd of people but today’s teaching was pointed at his disciples. In order for us to grasp just how jaw dropping what Jesus is saying is and what it means for us, we need to have an idea of who these disciples were.
Jesus’ first disciples were not an impressive group. They were illiterate and uneducated. Most of them were fishermen, which means they were discontinued from Rabbi School and some of them were worse…they were tax collectors. They were by no means the cream of the crop, the best of the best, or even the sharpest tools in the box. For instance in Matthew 15, Jesus has just finished telling the disciples a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, and they were having a hard time understanding it. So Peter speaks up for the rest of the group and asks Jesus to explain it to them. Jesus replies, “Are you still so dull?” Have you ever been there? Have you ever struggled to get it? The good news is that these are the kind of people that Jesus calls and enlists when he says, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world,” people who had a hard time getting it. In Mark 9, Jesus has pulled the disciples away to teach about his impending crucifixion. He wanted to prepare them for that and let them to know things were going to be difficult. The entire time Jesus is sharing this earth shattering news, the disciples are busy arguing amongst themselves about which one of them is the greatest and would get the seat of honor next to Jesus. The disciples were impulsive, self-centered, and continually sticking their foot in their mouths. They had a hard time remembering that it wasn’t about them. And these are “the salt of the earth, and the light of the world?” Really?
First, you’re it! One of the reasons why we struggle with sharing the good news is because we have a hard time believing that we are the ones who are qualified to do it. We’re so quick to disqualify ourselves from being used by God. But we are the ones God has chosen to be the light of the world, and there is no plan B. One of the most revolutionary truths of the Gospel is that God is able to take ordinary, messed up people like you and me and use them to do extraordinary things.
Second, we are strategically and intentionally placed to be salt and light. Jesus refers to his followers as a city on a hill. A more literal translation of the Greek in that passage would be a city placed on a hill. It implies intentionality. This is a city that was put there on purpose. In that part of the world, cities and towns were placed on top of hills and more often than not they were built out of white limestone so that people could see them from far away. Jesus says to his followers, to you and I, we are a strategically and intentionally in other people’s lives. God has placed opportunities all around us to share the good news. God has strategically placed people in our lives so that we could bring them to Jesus, your oikos, the 8-15 people God wants you to influence first. That’s the people with whom you spend the most time: your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors, your relatives. On the other hand, some of us need to be better about intentionally and strategically placing ourselves. Some of us spend all of our time with other Christians, but if we are going to follow Jesus, then we are going to have to come along side people. As a city on a hill, we need to make intentional choices about where we position ourselves so that we can see and respond to the needs around us.