Being Salt and Light in the world.
There are two broad approaches to seeking to shape values in society. At times the Christian community may feel it needs to confront a particular value, decision or priority adopted by the community. But the Christian community is also able to influence values day in, day out through bringing a distinctively Christian approach to the people we come across as we go about our daily lives. This is what we mean by being “salt and light” in the world (Mt 5:13,14), where by living distinctively Christian lifestyles we seek to influence those around us, and through this the values, decisions and priorities adopted by our communities.
|Pause for Thought : Start off by thinking for a moment where your influencing opportunities are. There will be many more than you may at first realise. Jot down a list of the times and places where you come into contact with other people.
Next think about some unrealised opportunities – chances that you have to come into contact with others within the community that would be relatively simple to do.
Thirdly, go back through this list and reflect for a moment on which offer the greatest opportunity to influence others : where there is a chance for dialogue, where community decisions are taken, where it’s possible to spend time with people who can influence your community.
Jesus challenges us to be salt and light – to influence the world, and to be seen to be doing so. You might like to spend some time reflecting on this passage :
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “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. 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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Mt 5:13-16
1. You are the salt of the earth. ·By beginning with You, Jesus emphasises to the disciples that they have both the calling and the responsibility to be influencers in the world. Salt is a number of effects :
2. Salt which loses its saltiness is useless. · Jesus’ teaching is challenging. There is little room for those who are Christians, but who have lost their saltiness, or their “edge”. Without the testimony of lives lived out with integrity and consistency with the principles that Christians claim to follow, the testimony of our lips is useless. But be clear : this does not require us to be perfect : knowing our sinfulness, and knowing our need to confess it and be cleansed of it is a vital part of the Christian gospel. Then, as v16 says, “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
3. You are like light for the world. · Light shines on dark things and exposes what is there. This is a call to the church to challenge evil within our society, however uncomfortable this may be. Having humility and servanthood within our character does not make us toothless and wishy-washy. The light that we bring, is not our own light – it is not who we are in ourselves, but rather the light of God shining through our lives as the Holy Spirit works through them. This doesn’t mean that we have to refer to God in every other sentence, but when the opportunity arises, we can share with another person the light that God has given us.
4. Don’t hide your light. · We hide our light when we stay silent in the face of discussion which is contrary to that which we believe. We hide our light when we fail to accept and conform with behaviours that are not in line with Jesus’ teaching. We hide our light when we don’t care for the needs of others, and walk by on the other side : since we have missed an opportunity to let the light of Jesus’ compassion shine out in acts of kindness. If we let the light of the Holy Spirit at work in us shine through, then we bring glory to God, and there can be no greater joy than being able to give glory to the Father as we go through our daily lives.
|Pause for Thought : After reflecting on this passage, revisit your list, and spend some time in prayer asking God to show you opportunities where you can be salt and light as you live out your life. Pray not only that you might have insight now, but also that you would become better at spotting the opportunities to be salt and light as they arise.|
Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.
Back in 1940, only 20 percent of college students admitted to cheating. Today, that number has increased to 75%-98%. Worse yet, two-thirds of parents think cheating is no big deal and that all students do it, according to statistics from National Public Radio. What has happened to integrity?
If 2012 is going to be better than 2011 there will have to be more integrity in our world and we will have to provide it. We face a constant struggle being in the world but not being overwhelmed by it. For most of us I think we need to be in it more. We are comfortable surrounding ourselves with Christians, trying to create a Christian environment in which to live our lives. But we need to be bolder and more fearless and begin to operate more out there where the battle is.
Christians sometimes treat unbelievers as untouchables. They appear as though they are avoiding all contact with them. I can understand not wanting to be influenced in a bad way. But how about influencing others in a good way?
Jesus said that as Christians, we are to be salt and light. In Jesus’ day, salt was used as a preservative. It was rubbed into meat to stop the rotting process. So, as salt in a culture, Christians are to stop the spread of corruption. But another thing salt does is stimulate thirst. So we are to stop the spread of corruption and stimulate a thirst for God in others.
In addition to being salt, Christians are to be light, which means that we are to proclaim the gospel and do good works. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
God has planted us as believers in this world. He has put His people in the culture to influence it, to make a difference. God is not calling us as believers to isolate, but to infiltrate.
Infiltrate in 2012. You’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
Jesus talked more about peace and the absence of fear than anything else. He spoke the above words hours before His crucifixion. If our lives are going to mean anything, if we are going to accomplish anything for Christ, we are going to have to get past fear and on to peace.
If I can make certain truths real in my life, I can have that peace.
- God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place. Everything seems so chaotic, only because we forget He’s in control. Relax. He’s got this.
- He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. Most of our misery comes from believing we are not loved and the crazy things we do to get that love. Forget it. The God of the universe loves you. What more do you need?
- To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil. He’s in control. Why do I think I can do a better job of running things. In the words of Dr.Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”
- I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort. Stop thinking that today’s problem is there to ruin your life; just accept it’s there to improve your character.
- I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin. Life is not a rocket to perfection. It’s made up of daily falls and a string of second chances. There is no shame in admitting failure. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Just another chance to get it right.
- Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation. Make a plan to get some scripture in your head each day. Find a daily scripture reading plan that works for you and get into it.
As we approach the new year, we review the past and plan for a better future. Let’s consider our relationships. One of the legacies of the Promise Keeper movement is the concept that we should all have a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. Paul was a missionary to many regions of Greece, and eventually to Rome. Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” was one of his partners in the missionary work.
In order to live an effective life, we need to learn from someone wiser than we are, have one or more friends who can encourage and work with us, and to pass on our wisdom to someone else who can continue our life’s work long after we’re gone. So who’s your Paul, your Barnabas, your Timothy? Before this year ends, identify these key folks in your life and commit to developing those relationships in 2012. These things don’t happen by accident. Be intentional and be blessed.
Christmas is a big deal. It is strange how big a deal we make of it. Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, but that was years later. At his birth, he just lies there, doing nothing. He is a baby. That’s the big deal. Jesus did it all during His life. He saved us. But in this season, we don’t even get to that, the marvel of all He did. We stop and marvel at who He is.
And He is the eternal Son of God, who took on our human nature in order to save us. “Come, let us adore him.” “What child is this?” All we can do is kneel in awe, then celebrate, gather with loved ones, and exchange gifts and gratefulness.
We will have plenty of time to marvel at what He did. For now, let’s just marvel at who He is. That’s a really big deal.
Have a blessed Christmas.