Monday, October 15, 2012

Salt and Light

You are the Salt of the Earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness… it is no longer good for anything. You are the light of the World. A city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl… In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they may… praise your Father in Heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16

Conformity is a popular trend in today’s culture. If you are different in a way that is not accepted you are shunned, ridiculed and disdained. But God has called us to a standard of difference, of nonconformity.
Let’s talk about salt. Salt is a strong seasoning that is used to flavor various foods and as a preservative. Christ calls us ‘The Salt of the Earth’. We are to season the world around us. We are to change the ‘taste’ of our surroundings. But, we are not to be changed to the ‘taste’ of our surroundings. If you dissolve salt in water, the salt is in the water, but it does not become water, it is still salt. When the water is boiled, the salt will remain and the water will be gone. But what happens when salt becomes bland? “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” If we are not salty, we will not bring glory to God or please his palate. But how does salt lose its saltiness? First off, this scripture is not saying you can lose your salvation, but you can lose your ability to flavor the world for Christ. Salt is a very resilient compound, you can’t make salt disappear. But, as a flavoring, salt can be washed away, diluted and covered up. Danger comes to the Salt when it is not pure and mixed with other things. We need to be filled with the seasoning of Christ and not dabble in the sins that will wash out our flavor.
What about light? Let’s start with the historical context; this was a period when there were no light bulbs, no electricity and no gas lamps. You had your candle, your fireplace and the sun. One solitary candle isn’t going to do much against the darkness that surrounds you on a moonless night; similarly, you can’t face the darkness of the world with only John 3:16 shining out on the world (though it is a good place to start). You have to be the city. You have to have so much of Christ, of His word, and of the Spirit, shining through you, that it is impossible to miss. The City on the Hill is a beacon, a homing signal, a guide to the lost. When the Psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” we see that the Word is to be the guiding light to our lives.
            But what about opposition? In Luke 1:5 we see that “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” The fallen world cannot understand the light that Christ gives us – Ephesians 4:18 “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” – and people fear what they do not understand. When we shine our light, we need to “proclaim the truth in love.” But this doesn’t mean we should dilute our saltiness, or put our lamp under a bowl. We need to proclaim the truth. Did you know that if you eat something that is too salty, you can actually kill your ability to taste salt? Also, if you shine a flashlight in someone’s eyes, it can permanently injure their eyes. So, the question is, how do we find the balance between dilution and over flavoring? The key is ‘in love’. Not ‘in niceness’ but in a genuine concern for the eternal state of everyone you proclaim the truth to.
Have you ever gone swimming in the ocean? The water is so salty that it leaves salt on your swim suit. Similarly, when we meet unbelievers we should be so salty that we leave our saltiness on them. We should be so full of Christ that when we meet unbelievers, we should swell up like a wave and drench them in the Love of Christ. Have you ever seen a lighthouse? Its light shines off of the coast into the dark seas, guiding lost ships to a protected bay, or warning them of the dangerous and deceitful shallows and reefs. We should be a lighthouse, housing the light of Christ and shining it out onto the dark, turbulent waters of the world, guiding the lost and wandering into the eternal safety of the Bay of Salvation, and warning them of the dangerous reefs of sin.

Leaping Lizard

Image by Leaping Lizard


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