Friday, January 17, 2014

Lights! Camera! BUSHEL?

    It is interesting that this parable of salt and light comes after the beautiful "Blessed are the..." part of the Sermon on the Mount.  The kingdom of God has characteristics of those who would be a part of it and those whose lives reflect that membership.  Notice that these are qualities of the heart, not religious duties to be performed.  God is concerned with our character and its development.  What is the ultimate goal of this character transformation?  In Romans 8:29 we read:  "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."  Our character's not fully developed until we are like Jesus.  Pure and simple.
     So, how do we gain entrance into God's kingdom where His Son is our Mentor, Guide and Friend?
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,                Humbly knowing we need Him
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,                 Realizing how needy we truly are
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,                             Graciously receiving His provision
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger 
    and thirst for righteousness,                   Craving His life in us & earnestly seeking Him
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,                          Forgiving ourselves and forgiving others
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,                   New heart, new eyes
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,                  Desiring now all come to Him
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted 
     because of righteousness,                      Trials will come to His own as we go out     
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
     We become the bearers of the Good News:  freedom and forgiveness in Christ!  Some will welcome the message, others want to remain in the darkness.
      So, a new heart has a new mission:  to bear witness by our words and actions of the inner transformation that is occurring as Christ lives in us.  So, now Jesus drives His point home.  With our new mission, what will we be like?  First:
      “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 underfoot."
      Salt:  It preserves.  We will preserve His presence in the world through His touch and love those hearts that are decomposing from the rankness of sin.  Sin pollutes, salt preserves.  It also flavors:  "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27)
     But, it also makes men thirsty and craving more.  It sustains the hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Salty foods drive us to finish the whole bag and that's the kind of craving we would like others to have when they see Christ in us.  

     “You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
     The comparison changes, from salt to light, but the idea is the same.  Light illuminates--driving out darkness with a small but sure flame.  Light simply is...with the kingdom of God in our hearts, His light should be evident to everyone.  You can't hide the love of Jesus in a sincere heart...the light radiates out.  So, we can start with a small area--our house--and move out, lighting the world as we go.
     Any city, all aglow in the evening, is quite a sight.  The lights are there in the daytime, but the darkness provides contrast.  His light in us will provide quite the contrast with the darkness that is in the world.
     But a lighted city, in the darkness, also provides a destination.  When I walk down our mountain roads in the gathering evening dark, the lit up houses are a comfort.  My eyes naturally gravitate to them and they remind me that I am not alone.  I love the lights on my house:  they are an invitation to finish up my walk, and come home.  The light we shine is an invitation:  come, join the kingdom.  The God Who forgave and empowered me will forgive and empower you.  My light is His light--you will not praise me, but see Him and praise Him. 
     Ultimately, salt and light induce a craving, a desire to seek, find and embrace.  Salt makes us thirsty and light makes us long for home.  He waits for those who who are thirsty and long for home.  Those of us who know Him must live as to remind others that thirst can be quenched and Home is available.
     What if we don't use our salt?  It becomes useless.  What if we don't shine our light?  It goes out.
     Jesus said, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working." (John 5:17)  Can we, who know His work in our hearts, do anything less?

For more posts in my parable series, click here.

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