Good evening! Our reading for this Monday, March 25, 2019 is Matthew 5:13-16.
13 “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.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
I love salt! My wife, Kathy, likes her veggies natural, but I love eating mine with some salt on them. Things can be too salty or not salty enough. It is all a matter of taste. That is not the case behind what Jesus means when he compares we who follow him as being the “salt of the earth.” I would imagine salt was important for enhancing the flavor of food in Jesus’ day just as it is for us and it was a mineral prevalent and common in Israel. Like As salt then Christians are to enhance the taste of life because living by faith brings out the best in life, or it should.
I am not so certain that outsiders and onlookers to our faith would conclude they see the benefit of following Jesus in us. As a follower of Jesus I often wonder as I look at the church where our joy has gone. I have heard people ask “What’s in it for me” and while this statement reveals what CS Lewis would describe as a “mercenary soul” we need to admit that people, including us, are interested in making the most of what time we have. We do not present the best before a doubting world.
I have my down moments and challenging times for certain. In fact, sometimes following Jesus amplifies some stress as I accept higher expectations for myself and struggle with the push back from the trials of life. Making Christ Lord also means bearing responsibility for service and witness for Christ. When all is said and done, the burdens of faith are light compared with the burdens I knew when I gave little concern for living by faith.
Jesus understood that living by faith is not always a bed of roses evidenced in his invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weak and heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11.28) Living for Jesus is not without its unique challenges; however, living with Jesus brings us the blessings of his companionship, guidance, encouragement and assistance. And when we do well we know his pleasure.
It is true that we who follow Christ do not always exude the fruit of the Spirit before a doubting public. Most often they do not witness our joy and peace and only see the evidence of joylessness, conflict and hardship. What we do for Jesus should be done with enthusiasm and anticipation. If we become overly serious and obsessed we cannot ever bring the hope of Christ to our world.
We are also told that salt is a preservative. In a time where there was no refrigeration, salt, drying or smoking was the only way to preserve meat. Living by faith in Christ should preserve the best qualities of love and fellowship, compassion and generosity to the relationships we desire and cherish. Moral faithfulness to what God values enhances our relationships and preserves them from dysfunction and destructiveness of sin. Or at least they should if only those who profess them live by them and reveal the benefits of faithfulness before a doubting world.
Our faithfulness to God illumined by our witness of compassion, generosity, and other qualities from grace-filled living should expose the ugliness and meanness in the world by those who do not know the grace of Christ. The evidence of successful and fruitful lives should draw the attention of the disbelieving to the truth we know in Christ. It is hard to understand how anyone would want to hide their knowledge of Christ unless it is from shame for not living it. If we keep silent about the truth we know then others will not see our hypocrisy. To profess faith openly illuminates the truth of our faults and failures, but also the grace available to us all.
Our being light is determined by our saltiness. If we lose our saltiness; if we lose our joy and peace due to a failure to live up to what we proclaim then Jesus says our witness is worthless as salt that loses is savor. It becomes worthless and needs to be tossed out or rejected.
But we have a choice – to keep our saltiness which is the love, joy and peace which accompanies integrity or accept less. Anything less than a passionate, joyful and fruit-bearing profession of faith will never impact the world in which we live. Let us then profess and live our faith well!
Blessings! Brian Homan, pastor
Liverpool First UM Church