Summary: We must not look for labels or titles. We must look for attitudes, actions and spirit. Jesus rejoices when he sees mercy, justice and compassion in our lives, because when he sees them he sees God at work in our world.
In 2012 Dr. Michael Youssef, who is the founder and President of Leading the Way Ministries, wrote an article about a Christian Sunday school teacher who was leading a class of boys. After a conversation with one of the boys, the young man prayed and received Christ. That young man was D.L. Moody, who became one of the greatest evangelists of his time.
On one of his trips to England, D.L. Moody preached at a church pastored by another great evangelist named F.B. Meyer. Moody invited him to come to the United States to preach. At one service, a man named J. Wilbur Chapman gave his life to Christ and became a great evangelist. One of the people he led to Christ became his travelling companion. That companion was evangelist Billy Sunday.
After Billy Sunday preached in Charlotte, North Carolina, a group of farmers asked God to do something great for the world, starting in Charlotte. They invited an evangelist by the name of Mordecai Hamm to preach in Charlotte. During one of his services, three young men came forward to receive Christ. Their names were Billy Graham, Grady Wilson and T.W. Wilson. Billy Graham became one of the most respected evangelists of our time, and the Wilson brothers became administrators with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
While we are on earth we will never understand what God is doing through each and every one of us. We will understand this only when we get to heaven. One lone Sunday school teacher impacted generations of Christians by doing God’s work. If that one Sunday school teacher can have such an impact, just think of how our ministries or our gifts can be used by God to impact the world.
My own life is an example. I have now preached approximately 250 messages, each of which is posted on my blog. In turn, I post links to each of these messages in several Facebook groups I belong to. These messages, which to date have been seen over 125,000 times, have been widely received with much praise and thanksgiving judging by the comments I have received. Some of these messages have been published in a new book, and if you want to see the sample copy I have with me today or would like to buy a copy, please see me after church or during the week.
In Mark 9:38-50 we read that in their struggle for position, the disciples were upset to find that an exorcist was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, especially since recently they were not able to heal a demon-possessed child. Every mature Christian can be drawn into “turf wars” in the church. Jesus said that anyone who does God’s work in his name is a partner in ministry, not a threat to ministry. There will be no peace in our world until we have peace in our hearts. God loves us all the same. God’s will is for liberty and justice for everyone. We do not have peace in our lives if we try to protect our turf and destroy the weak among us.
In Jesus’ time, salt both preserved and seasoned food. It also came with impurities that could make it useless. Jesus tells us to get rid of the impurity of selfishness and show the purity of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Any little thing we do in Christ’s name will be rewarded. Jesus tells us that if there is nothing distinctive about our lives, it is no good for us to be followers of Jesus. There is no use in following him if we don’t make any real contribution to the life of the world, or if there is no redemptive power flowing through our lives and our actions.
So what does it mean to be a “salty believer?” Let me give you an example. Legend has it that a missionary was swept overboard while traveling on very high and rough seas, and was subsequently washed up on a beach at the edge of a remote village. Nearly dead from exposure and lack of food and fresh water, he was found by the people of the village and nursed back to health. He lived among them for twenty years, quietly adapting to their culture and working alongside them. He preached no sermons, and made no personal faith claim. Neither did he read scripture to them.
But, when people were sick, he sat with them, sometimes all night. When people were hungry, he fed them. When people were lonely, he gave a listening ear. He taught the ignorant and always took the side of the one who had been wronged.
The day came when some missionaries entered the same village and began talking to the people about a man named Jesus. After listening for a while to their story, the native people began insisting that Jesus had already been living in their village for many years. “Come,” one of them said, “We’ll introduce you to him.” The missionaries were led to a hut where they found their long-lost companion.