A time for salt and light

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 underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

In the days of Jesus and the disciples, salt was an intensely valuable commodity. In fact, arguments could be made that salt was more valuable than gold. While gold carried significant purchasing power, salt powered several aspects of everyday living. In addition to seasoning food, salt was used to preserve food, treat and clean wounds, and in temple offerings. Finally, salt was even used as currency.  In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells his disciples to be the salt and light of the communities they lived in.
Today many Christians interpret this to only mean leading the world in the ways of Christ. However, I believe there is a deeper meaning to Jesus’ instructions. Salt was a foundational commodity that sustained the ancient world in positive ways. Although present in almost everything, including Temple worship, salt was not a showy, flashy, or pretentious commodity. Hence, the importance of salt to the ancient world still remains largely unknown to modern day society. Imagine American Christians that endeavored to be behind the scenes as sustainers of American culture instead of behind the scenes controllers of American culture. Imagine Christians being more focused on helping people than indoctrinating them. Imagine Christians who showed others how to be good more than they told them.
In the ancient world, salt and light were substances whose effectiveness utilized participatory relationships. They touched and connected with the elements that were effecting. As Christians, we should show more respect for people and issues that we personally know nothing about. Passing judgment and legislation on issues on people we have never spent anytime with, is not behaving like salt or light in this world. Furthermore, information from our favorite preacher or news anchor is at best second hand opinion that we should never regard as infallible truth. The change that disciples created 21 centuries ago was based upon one on one interpersonal relationships, not just doctrine and laws. Who or what will your light directly touch this week? What broken person or situation will your salt lovingly give some flavor or healing to this week?

Cecil Lettsome

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