You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16 WEB)
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? Let’s go through the Sermon on the Mount to lay the groundwork, with my comments in parentheses.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
(We realize how much we need Him,)
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(for we have come to the end of ourselves.)
Blessed are those who mourn,
(We realize how needy we are,)
for they will be comforted.
(for He not only provides the comfort, He is the comfort.)
Blessed are the meek,
(We submit willingly to His Son,)
for they will inherit the earth.
(for we long to be back in the place where He is.)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
(We crave for His life to be in us every day,)
for they will be filled.
(for He fills us as nothing else can.)
Blessed are the merciful,
(We no longer seek vengeance; we receive and give His love,)
for they will be shown mercy.
(for our cup now overflows with His love.)
Blessed are the pure in heart,
(His heart is becoming our own,)
for they will see God.
(for it is His light in us that now shines out.)
Blessed are the peacemakers,
(We now serve the Prince of Peace,)
for they will be called children of God.
(for we are Kingdom children, running free.)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
(The darkness fears the light,)
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(but light, like love, perseveres and never fails.)
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 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 speak what we are: free and forgiven.)
So, our new heart has a new mission: to bear witness of our inner transformation by our words and actions.
Jesus drives His point home. With our new mission, what will we be like? First: “You are the salt of the earth…”
Salt 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.
The next analogy: “You are the light of the world...”
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 home--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 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?
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