So remembering Jesus begins this message by taking our perceptions of blessing, and cursing and turns them upside down, we come to the next passage. This is Jesus way of explaining how important this all is. And please let me warn you, I am going to say some pretty harsh things in the following paragraphs but please realize I am preaching to myself as well.
Jesus says, you are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its "saltiness" how can you salt it? It is worthless. Then he says, "you are the light of the world" and also shows us that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden, and if you hide the light it is also, worthless.
Now I have heard many sermons about this passage. It is infact a standard call for Christians to be the light of the world and salt to the world. Most of the sermons I have heard talk about the natures of salt, and the natures of light. And they are fine. It is true that light chases away darkness, and that salt is a preservative, and was a highly sought after and indispensible part of the culture. These are all true and they help us to grow. However, so often these become calls of morality. And I will get into that discussion in the next few messages as Jesus flips that on its head as well. However, I will contend that there is something much much more going on here than God asking us to be good little boys and girls.
There is no denying the absolute impact of these statements, I pray you can hear them again with fresh ears. No frail cliches these verses. Jesus says you are the salt of the earth, and if you are not salty then you are good for nothing. And says the same about light. The fact is, if we as the followers of Jesus, and the citizens of the kingdom of God, are not the radically different people that we are called to be, we are good for nothing in Gods kingdom. Jesus is telling us, if you are not the salt and the light, what good are you?
We must remember that in this culture, yearning for power, for freedom, for their pride to be re-established, their goal was conquest, and in their good Jewish minds this meant not only being militarily powerful, but also morally and ethnically pure. They were looking to sway God by their piety to redeem their place in the world. But Jesus tells this people, all the world looks to you. You are what seasons the world. You are what gives light to the world. And if you continue to merely imitate the desires and the lusts of this world, what good are you.
Now we are not talking about some silly morality. Let me say loud and clear there is nothing light giving about being Ned Flanders. If you avoid words on the naughty list, and dress conservatively, only listen to gospel music and go to church three times a week, you are not being salt. Now there is nothing wrong with these things, infact there is much right about them. But the message that we are to be good little boys and girls so we can be salt and light is just not true. Jesus goes on to say that people will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. And please let me assure you, no one is praising the Father because you said shucky darns instead of shit!
We become salt and light to the world when we begin to live in this new order. When we esteem the least in the world, when we eschew power, when we love unconditionaly, and sacrificially. Remember the beatitudes set the tone here. We are called to live a life with such different priorities and focus that the world says, "well they may be crazy, but if everyone was that kind of crazy this world would be a better place" The world is looking, are we making the poor more important than the rich? Are we seeking after success and power just like everyone else? Are we looking out for number one? Are we actually living in a love for our brothers and sisters that makes others desire what God has given us? Are we truly leaving the kingdoms of this world, power, fame, self interest, self determination, consumerism, title and degree mongering, for the new kingdom of God. Are we losing our life to find it?
This is not moral encouragement, it is a declaration of independence. It is a revolution! It is the kingdom of God come!!!
Be salt!!! Be light!!! if you aren't, what good are you?