Alright New Hope Family—Time to get excited about what God is up to in your life! While we are learning to be silent and to listen to the Lord and to slow down, as Christ followers, we also live with building excitement and anticipation for what God is going to do through us! Get ready for some exclamation points, because this is good news—for you and for the world at large!
Some context for our excitement—the Beatitudes left us reeling a bit because Jesus inverts our expectations of what a flourishing life is all about. If some of those concepts are difficult for you to grasp, don’t worry. It is puzzling for all of us to learn to anticipate flourishing in times of mourning, or to expect flourishing when we are persecuted because of our apprenticeship to Jesus. Hang in there with Jesus—things will become clear as we follow him.
But, this next section of the Sermon on the Mount is more clear. Yay! Jesus, with a twinkle in his eye, paints a vivid picture of our role in the world that he created: we are, as his followers, Salt and Light.
Read this out loud and feel deeply the powerful metaphors Jesus is attaching to you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.Matthew 5:13–16 (NLT)
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
This week, we will explore more of what that means specifically. But, first, imagine the world with no light. We cannot imagine it because we are made to see and seeing requires the light. Maybe you’ve been in utter darkness before and you can more adequately imagine. Or, perhaps you’re not a sighted person and you can inform us what it is like to live in perpetual darkness. Next week, Chris Bowlby will explain more about us being the light of the world.
Now, imagine the world without salt. So much for savory food. So much for French Fries. We use salt all of the time. There would be loss without it. Even sugar (ironically) tastes better with salt. (Donia always reminds our kids to remember the salt in cookies!)
Jesus says that we are the Salt of the Earth. “Salt of the Land” may be a better way to say what Jesus intends. You, reader or listener, YOU: Salt the earth. You bring flavor and joy. Your preserve. The Way of Love is kept by you. And, what does Jesus say: “…SO THAT everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
This is your identity! In a way, Jesus is saying: You’re going to make a difference! It matters that you are here! Your life is going to be filled with meaning and importance as you follow me! The world needs you!
Ephesians 2:10 says this about YOU:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:10
Jesus, by calling us salt and light, is whetting our appetites for our mission—which is his mission—to seek and save the lost. Jesus wants us to know that as we obey him and walk in his way, it is all about being living testimonies of His Love to those around us!
So, celebrate! We’ve got a job to do! We’ve got a mission to live out!
It is a big mission—that can only be lived out by true apprentices who are abiding in him. That little bit about salt losing its flavor and being cut out…yah, that’s going to happen if we aren’t remaining in constant connection with Jesus through His Word and the Holy Spirit. In John, Jesus says:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”John 15:4 (NASB)
Good news: every day through our devotions, through the scriptures and by paying attention to the Holy Spirit, we are abiding in him. This week, anticipate your significant role in the world.
Read or repeat this as your prayer:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit—you created me!
Father, Son and Holy Spirit—you have saved me!
Father, Son and Holy Spirit—you are forming me!
Father, Son and Holy Spirit—you’ve placed me in community!
I accept your calling and purpose in my life.
Make my mission more and more clear.
Help me to say YES! so more and more people can know you and live according to the Way of Love.