Salt and Light
Lauren Parliament Future Leader Minister
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can I be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town bult 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 (Mt. 5:13-16).
Jesus call His followers to be exemplifiers of Christ in this world. Exemplifiers arebelievers and doers of God’s Word. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus uses two powerful metaphors to display how to be exemplifiers of Christ.
The two metaphors are “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.” These two metaphors give faithful followers some insight into how to be authentic lovers of God and His people. Both metaphors also raise important questions about Christian involvement in society regarding separatism and withdrawal. Exemplifiers are to be salt and light in this world by permeating into society, and not by separating from society.
Salt as a metaphor is being used to describe how one’s actions should be set apart and how one's actions should draw people to Christ. In the first century, salt was used for seasoning, but it also was used for food preservation, as fertilizer, and for purifying wounds. Sometimes people were paid with salt instead of money because of its value. Salt was a necessity of life. Today, we still use salt for sore muscles, to keep ice off our sidewalks, to keep things from spoiling — and yes, to season our food. However, salt goes beyond the shaker in your kitchen.
There are many different types of salt and many different cooking techniques.
For example, when prepping steaks for grilling, one of the best ways to get that juicy taste is to salt the steaks on both sides and to let the meat sit until they begin to "sweat." What is being pulled out of the meat are water soluble proteins and it is those proteins that make the steak get a caramelized crust which then seals in those lovely juices. The salt transforms the meat. Being exemplifiers of Christ in this world, we should be transformed from the inside-out and we should be able to walk with others in order to help God to transform them.
When Christ uses salt as a metaphor for being one of His disciples, it means we are necessary for the welfare of the world. In other words, we are to be exemplifiers of Christ on earth by being and doing God’s love. Being in God’s love purifies oneself to be salt for others. Doing God’s love is being an influencer in one’s community.
Faithful followers who are salt help to season others with their strength. All of this is to be done in God’s name because when a person is in God’s love their intention is to glorify God. Being salt in God’s world, one is to be and do God’s love with the intention of showing God to others. The second metaphor Jesus used was light.
Like salt, light is valuable and necessary because that is how people function when the sun is down, or when it's cloudy outside. Jesus used two images of light: one being a city on a hill to be seen for miles, and the other, a candle, on a lampstand in the home to give light to all who are there.
This may be hard for us to imagine, but in ancient times, many Jewish homes were one-room structures, so an elevated candle on a lampstand would give light to the whole house. This candlelight is very similar to being in complete darkness while hiking and using a flashlight to illuminate the whole path for others to see. Light overpowers darkness.
Have you ever been up in the mountains, far from the city, and at night, have seen the lights from the city "light up" the sky?
Again, light overpowers darkness! Jesus was known as the Light of the world, and here He is declaring that His followers will be the light of the world and a city on a hill. They were to act publicly and to be God’s redeeming presence here on earth. Jesus is calling His disciples to be exemplifiers of Him to be seen through their character and their community.
Jesus called His followers to be the light to the world.
If one’s identity is in Christ, he or she can let Him shine through their deeds and actions. The very essence of being with Christ is to be God’s love. To let God’s light shine is for an exemplifier of God to live in such a way as to manifest the presence of His kingdom.
As exemplifiers of Christ, followers of God are called to live in a sacrificial manner -- in that "they will decrease, but Christ will increase." In doing so, others will see God's work being completed through his faithful followers. The event's of this past week -- and of this past year -- give us even more reason (and a platform) to be the salt and light in this world!
What are you doing to be and to do God’s love?
Lord make us an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred or evil, let us show love. Where there is injury and despair, let us show love. Where there is darkness and sadness, let us bring love to those places. O Lord, grant us the patience and understanding to be love in this world. Grant us the strength and the words to bring your love to this broken and contrite world. May we be exemplifiers of Christ’s love. AMEN.
Future Leader Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains