Please pass the salt. How many times have you heard that said or made that request yourself? Salt is an essential part of our life. We use it to season our food, soften our water, treat slippery sidewalks, and help heal sore throats. Our bodies need salt to survive. In ancient times, salt was used as a currency and wars have been fought over its control. Salt is made up of a one-to-one ratio of Sodium and Chloride. Both are essential to the proper function of our bodies. It is basic as it is essential, and the simplicity of salt seems to belie its value. It’s significant that the Lord used salt as a description of who we are to be in this world we live in.
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is teaching what we know as the “sermon on the mount”. Jesus states nine times blessings – nine outcomes of ultimate wellbeing and joy that belong to the believer as they walk with God. Jesus concludes the section stating that there will be times of trouble for the believer. That we will be persecuted and reviled for Christ. This is an expectation that the Lord Himself said would be true of us. Yet in the midst of these hard times we will be blessed. It is in this context that Jesus makes the following statement, “you are the salt of the earth,” “you are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:13a & 15a.) Why make that statement here? In the midst of persecution or trial Jesus said we ‘are’ something, salt and light. He goes on to say something else, “but if the salt has become tasteless how can it be made salty again?” So, what is our responsibility? From what Jesus has shared its not to be concerned with the distribution of the salt – that is His concern. It is not to make sure our voice is heard or our opinions are clearly stated or to ‘push back’. We are simply to be salty. It is our responsibility to make sure that the salt does not lose its flavor, that it does not lose its power. Our testimony as a community of believers depends on our distinctiveness from the rest of the world around us. If we blend in or lose our savor, then we become useless in impacting others. As Jesus said, “it is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” We have seen many in the past who have lost their testimony regarding Christ. They have become those who have been “trampled” on by the world and they are derided for their failure.
The distinctiveness that Jesus has just shared in the beatitudes is to be our normal. Are we gentle, humble, hungry for righteousness, peacemakers? That is a salty Christian. That is someone whose life shines before men. Paul tells us in Romans 12 not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to live out what we are in Christ. We are to be salty. This is so basic, so essential. It is what the world needs and what we are to be. Not flashy, not a world changer in and of ourselves, but rather reflecting the One who has changed the world.
Jesus goes on to say that “we are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lampstand and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Again, our responsibility is not to worry about whether the light will be extinguished but rather to not hide it. The light should be seen, and attention drawn to it. I must admit I often do not like to be conspicuous but that it exactly what I should be as a believer. My light is to be seen and noticed. I am not to be ashamed or timid of the light I hold. Do not hide it, whether the motive is due to fear or not to create waves. Let it shine and allow the Lord to determine how it is to be received. I must keep in mind that the light is Christ Himself, He is the source. The light should not be my opinion or my view of the world, but is to reflect His character as we see in the beatitudes Jesus stated in Matthew 5.
So as we start a new year, let’s make it our goal to make an impact on the world around us. It does not need to be the whole world, but simply the world we live in, work in, and move in. Let us be salty and bright.