Summary: What it means for us to be light
"Turn On The Chandelier"
Intro: Well, we’re not taping this sermon, so you’re out of luck. But now that the Valentine’s Dinner is over, if any of you have any good quotes for the sign out front, let me know!
Did you hear about the little country church that was trying to use a generous memorial fund in a wise way. The board had discussed possible uses, and had pretty well decided on getting a new chandelier for the lobby of the church. Everything was just about set until Brother Frank stood up and said, "Friends, I’m against this here chandelier for three reasons.
1. We ain’t got nobody here what can spell the word "chandelier" when we go to order it.
2. We ain’t got nobody here in the church what can play it when we get it. And,
3. What we really need to do is to get something to give us some more light in this place!
Well, many times we have the light, but it just doesn’t shine very brightly. This morning we want to look at a passage where Christ talks about light. Turn with me to Matthew 5:13-16.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
This passage comes immediately following the Beatitudes. Christ has taught his disciples the way to true blessing in our attitudes, but then immediately reminds them of the importance of living our life before the world. Many times we judge our Christianity and spirituality on whether we have a good reputation in the church. But here in this passage Christ reminds us the ultimate test of our faith and witness is how we are viewed by the world.
I. We are the salt of the earth - We love that phrase, don’t we. If there is someone we really love, he is the "salt of the earth." We’ve changed the verse to mean likeable and friendly. But think with me about what salt meant in the ancient world. Salt was indispensable. First it was a spice that added flavor. If you want to hear someone really complain, but them on a salt-free diet. We can cut down on calories and fat somewhat easily, because there is still good-tasting food to eat. But salt adds so very much to the flavor of foods. It is a great flavor enhancement.
Yet, flavoring was the least prominent of the uses of salt. It’s greatest use was as a preservative. Salt was used medicinally, being rubbed into wounds, to bring health and healing. It was also uses to keep food from spoiling. Salt was used to prevent the decay of corpses. In it’s day, salt was a miracle-drug. Almost like penicillin is today. Settlers in the 1700’s would never take a trip on their covered wagons without plenty of salt.
Have you ever been to the shore, watching the fishing boats come in. They throw down a layer of fish, cover them with salt, then another layer of fish, etc. What happens if not enough salt is used: the meat spoils. In the same way, Christ says we are salt. We are a preservative in this world. I don’t think this refers to withholding the world from judgment, for God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah while Lot lived there. Rather I think it means that we have a strong ability to influence our world for good. This morning our theme of the 50 Day Adventure is that the church you’ve always longed for impacts the community.
We could talk about what good things we have done to help our neighborhoods, how we have benefitted the area, but ultimately I think the idea of salt is found in answering the question, "Are we keeping our communities a moral place in which to live."
The salt found in the Middle East is most predominantly a "marsh salt" that often can have much impurity in it. If it is not very pure, it will not have a preserving effect, and might as well be thrown out. I don’t think anyone would like to take rock salt that you use on your icy sidewalks and eat it. It would not have the flavor we desire. In the same way, if our lives are not pure, we will not give a lost world a true witness of the power and ways of our God.