August 01, 2020 | Ted Ancelet, National Director of Spiritual Empowerment
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:13–16 (ESV)
Our passage this month is an excerpt from one of Jesus’ most recognized teachings, commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount. The entire sermon is captured in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. If you’ve been in or around Christian circles for very long, these verses are probably familiar to you. Unfortunately, familiarity can rob us of the full, life-giving impact of God’s Word. So let’s slow down and look at this passage with fresh eyes and an open heart to hear what God has for us.
In verses 13–16, Jesus used two simple metaphors to describe the intended impact of God’s people on the world: salt and light.
Salt has fulfilled a variety of functions throughout history and was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. Soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. Three of the most common functions for salt are:
As followers of Christ, we’re called and equipped to have a positive impact on our world. How we do that will look different for each of us based on our skills, experiences, and resources; but the truth is universal. Each of us plays a role in preserving the good in our world and bringing healing to those among us who are wounded and broken. And, as we love others well, we awaken them to their inherent meaning and significance. In Christ, we are blessed in order to be a blessing.
The imagery of God’s people being a “light to the world” is rooted in the Old Testament. Isaiah pronounced, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). God’s people have always been invited to participate with him in what he is doing in the world.
Light serves as both a guide and a comfort in the dark. No matter who you are or what circumstances you face, in Christ you are never without purpose. The smallest gesture of obedience can have a life-changing impact for generations. God is not only walking with you but working through you to love others and make the world a better place.
Read and reflect on Ephesians 2:8–10.
Remember, our external impact in the lives of others overflows from God’s internal impact in our lives. Before looking outward, spend time praying and resting in the finished worked of Christ in your own life.
Reflect on your personal spheres of influence (home, neighborhood, work, friends, etc.). In what circumstances and relationships is God calling you to be salt and light? Commit to praying for God to guide you in how you can bring glory to your Father through your good works.
One last thing to note—verses 13 and 14 both start with the word “you,” and in both instances the word is plural, not singular. Jesus isn’t talking to a person but a people. The subtle but powerful truth is that we are called to come together around a common mission and vision to impact our world for good. When a diverse group of people joins forces as “salt and light,” we stand in stark contrast to a world riddled with division and self-interest. We not only bring healing and freedom to others but show them what it looks like to be healed and live free.
At Bethany, we recognize that partnering with others multiplies the impact we can have in the lives of vulnerable children and families. More importantly, as we work together, we multiply the honor shown to God our Father (v16). Whether it’s volunteering, advocacy, or financial support, we’d love to partner with you to be salt and light in our world. Learn more about how we can work together for good locally, domestically, and internationally: CLICK HERE
Finally, if you’re in need of help, we’re here for you. CLICK HERE to let us know how we can serve you.
Father, thank you that you have not only secured our eternity but filled our lives with meaning and purpose. We clearly hear your call to join with you to love and serve our communities. Help us see how we may use our time, gifts, and resources to bring your love and compassion to those who need it most.
In your Son’s precious name, Amen.