Summary: In this sermon on the influence of a servant, we examine Jesus' illustrations of salt and light from the Sermon on the Mount. I also continue to rely on Swindoll's book, Improving Your Serve.
A. Hillary Clinton’s current presidential campaign gives this old illustration an interesting twist.
1. There’s a story told about a drive that Bill and Hillary Clinton took while they were on vacation.
2. After driving along enjoying the beautiful countryside, they needed to stop for gas.
3. They pulled into a tiny gas station, and out walked a man to help them.
4. Hillary looked up and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Charley! Is that you? I can't believe it!”
5. She jumped out of the car and gave the man a big hug, and proceeded to talk with the man for a long time.
6. After they were finished talking, they hugged again, and Hillary got back in the car.
7. As they drove away, Bill turned to Hillary and asked, “Honey, who was that?”
8. Hillary said, “That was Charley, an old boyfriend of mine. We dated for a long time, and almost got married.”
9. “Just think,” said Bill, “If you had married him, today you would be the wife of a gas station attendant.”
10. Hillary replied, “No, if I had married him, today he would be the former President of the United States!”
B. It is interesting to ask the question: who has had the greater influence on the other, Bill or Hillary?
1. What I want all of us to come to grips with today is the truth that all of us have influence.
2. One person wrote: “There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one can understand that mysterious thing we call influence…yet… every one of us continually exerts influence, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives.” (J.R. Miller)
3. Popular speaker and writer, John Maxwell, said: “Sociologists tells us that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime!”
C. For the last two weeks, we have explored how the Beatitudes paint an amazing portrait of what a servant of God should look like.
1. I have tried to show us that the Beatitudes describe the essential character traits that servants of Jesus should develop so that they can have an impact on the world.
2. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus moved from the Beatitudes right into two metaphors, salt and light, in order to describe the influence for good that His disciples will have in the world.
3. In our passage for today, Jesus says that servants can make a difference by being salt and light.
D. In order to define the nature of our influence, Jesus resorted to two domestic metaphors.
1. Every home, however poor, used both salt and light.
2. And today, 2000 years later we call still relate to the function of these two essentials.
3. Salt and light are indispensable household commodities.
4. Pliny the Elder, a 1st Century writer had a saying, “Nothing is more useful than ‘salt and sunshine.’
5. The need for light is obvious. Salt, on the other hand, had a variety of uses – it was both a seasoning and a preservative.
6. Both of those uses shed light on our role as Christians, but for this lesson I will be focusing on the use of salt as a preservative.
E. A basic truth that lies behind these two metaphors and is common to them both is that the church and the world are distinct communities.
1. Jesus says that there is “the earth” and there is the “you” who are the salt of the earth.
2. Next, Jesus says that there is “the world” and there is the “you” who are the light of the world.
3. It is true that the two communities are related to each other, but their relatedness depends on their distinctness.
F. Additionally, the metaphors tell us something about both communities.
1. The world is evidently a dark place, with little or no light of its own, since an external source of light is needed to illuminate it.
a. We know that the world is always talking about being enlightened, but most of the world’s enlightenment is in reality just darkness.
2. Also, we observe that the world manifests a tendency to deteriorate.
a. The world continues to experience decay. The world cannot stop itself from going bad.
b. Only salt that is introduced from the outside can stop the process of decay.
3. And so, we realize that the church is set in the world for this dual role – we are salt that must arrest the process of decay, and we are light that must dispel the darkness.
G. Let’s take a closer look at these two metaphors to better understand our calling as servants.