Summary: In what way can we be salt and light in the world

Mt 5:13-20 Salt and Light

Story: In the 19th Century (before radar was invented) ships avoided each other by looking out for beacons or lights on other ships.

And they communicated with each other by flashing messages to each other by light in a sort of morse code.

One day a Royal Naval battleship was out on manoeuvres and the captain of the battleship saw a beacon on the horizon.

He realised that his ship was on a collision course with it.

So he called his signaller and told him.

"Flash the following signal over there ”We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees."

The reply came back "Advise you to change course 20 degrees."

The captain signaled back, "Who do you think you are - telling a Captain in the Royal Navy what to do."

The response came back "I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change your course 20 degrees.”

By this time the captain was furious.

He signalled back “I’m a battleship. I have no intention of changing direction. Change course 20 degrees."

The reply came back: "I’m a lighthouse. Be my guest."

We as the Church need to be like that Lighthouse.

We give off the same light in the world and we don’t change direction regardless of what people say. Sadly many leaders of our churches have compromised the Gospel of the Lord by giving inn to the mores of the world around us.

In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus uses two metaphors to describe the effect that his Church (that’s you and me) should have on the world.

He talks of salt which has a two fold action

i) Salt is used to slow down the decaying of meat.

ii) It is also used to bring taste to the meat too

And Light is used to illumine darkness

As Christians, Jesus calls us to be different.

It is interesting how expressions from the Bible have entered our language

For example, a person who is a really nice bloke is described as “the salt of the earth”

If we have special talents that we don’t use we speak of not “hiding your light under a bushel”

These are attributes that even the world sees as “good”

Let us look at the metaphor of salt

1. You are the salt of the earth

Salt was used for flavouring and preserving food.

It was also used by the Jews to symbolise wisdom.

So, what exactly are “you” supposed to be doing by being “the salt of the earth”?

Both flavouring and preserving have the effect of improving the society in which we live.

And through it we seek to improve society , not necessarily by charitable works (although Christianity can and should take this form) but by simply being true children of God.

True Christianity can change the life of the local community

In 1904 when the Welsh Revival broke out and many miners came to faith in Christ, the pit ponies used in the Welsh mines had to be retrained.

Any ideas why?

Because once the miners became committed Christians – were born again -their language changed and they stopped swearing at the ponies.

If we are true servants of God, we shall automatically be true servants of our community by acting in their best interests

The love for God inevitably shows itself as love of fellow man.

However, like the salt, we can only do this by being present and mixed in with the food!

Disciples are to function in society as an alternative and challenging community.

2. You are the Light of the World

Jesus probably had His home town of Nazareth in mind - it was “a city on a hill” and it stood out from the surrounding countryside.

Nobody could miss it.

This is a clear message to the disciples - they are to be like a “city on a hill” - they are not to be hidden, but clearly visible.

No underground religion, please!

I went on a mission with the late Canon Keith de Berry who had been rector of St Aldates Oxford.

When he retired, he told us he spelt it with a Y


On this mission we the team put on a play, which was set in a country where being a Christian was illegal.

And the question came up out of it

“If you were brought to court and charged with being a Christian, could enough evidence be found to convict you?”

This applies also to v.15; one does not (or should not) hide one’s light, but let it shine before men.

We are (a) to do good deeds (b) visibly.

This does NOT mean that this has to be done with much “Hey! Look at me! Aren’t I terrific???”

Later, Jesus condemned such behaviour in the Jewish religious leaders, who went out of their way to exhibit publicly how devout they were.

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