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.|
Yesterday when discussing making 2012 better than 2011, we decided that one way we need to do that is by changing our world. We do that by being salt and light. Here is some more thoughts on just how do we do that. These thoughts are borrowed from the Teal Trust. Tomorrow we will look at an example of someone who is living as Salt and Light.