Matt 5:13-16 (NKJV)
(Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34,35)
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Jesus is addressing his disciples here whose task it will be to ‘go out into the world to make disciples’, so in fact he is also addressing all who have been ‘born again’, whose task it is to continue proclaiming the truth of God’s Word and making more disciples. A difficult task to do, except that God has enabled us to excel in everything that he expects us to do.
Jesus proclaims here that ‘You are the salt of the earth’
Salt is an essential part of life. It is a natural component of the earth available in abundance and Jesus is calling his disciples the salt of the earth, an indispensable necessity of life. They may have their eyes on heaven, but for now their heart must be for this world. They have a God given role to perform, to season and preserve this world.
Salt is used to preserve almost anything which might decompose and is added to many foods to improve the taste, it was even part of the old testament sacrifices (EX 30:35), our bodies need it to stay healthy and It doesn’t naturally deteriorate. It wasn’t for the disciples to decide if they would be the ‘salt of the earth’, it was God’s decision and theirs to obey and it was no co-incidence that this was part of the Beatitudes of the sermon on the mount. Jesus was telling them how to live so as to be able to be ‘salt of the earth’.
But what happens if this salt becomes contaminated? It is no longer any good for anything except to be trampled underfoot. It cannot be revived and it will contaminate anything it touches; it is only good to be thrown out. Everything can be seasoned by salt, yet nothing seems to be able to restore salt to be useful again. Similarly, a disciple of Jesus can also become contaminated, by slothfulness, bad doctrine, self-preservation and love for the world and become fit for nothing concerning the Lord’s work. In fact, they can unwittingly become satan’s workers, destroying God’s witness and weakening the Kingdom here on earth.
Not only are we Salt but Jesus says that we ‘are the light of the world’. We are to shine out and be seen, it is not an option even if it might be uncomfortable at times. A light can be seen from a great distance and so should Christians by their very presence be seen and known for their faith, how else are they to be trusted to know the truth and for the truth to set people free. This doesn’t mean that we always have to be pestering our neighbours and friends with our beliefs, but that our lifestyle should scream out our faith so that it speaks even when we are silent. It is the property of light to shine and illuminate and so we also need to shine and savour our neighbours and society around us so as to proclaim the Good News even without words. We might want to hide under a basket but Christ will put us on a lampstand if we allow Him.
What an awesome privilege God has given us to be salt and light to the world and yet the most difficult part of it may be us resisting it. My burden is light says the Lord and it is if we stay in close communion with Him. The time will come when believers will be taken out of this world and what a terrible place that will be without the salt and light of God’s church, but in the meantime aught we commit ourselves ‘to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven,’ just as God intended it.
Inspired by The Visible Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer