Scripture: Matthew 5:38-48
This week has been one of ups and downs for me. Driving home one day I see on the warning signs “Amber Alert”! Meaning a child has been wrongfully taken from her family. Only to find out later that that child’s body was found, dead. We had a wonderful discussion on Wednesday evening only to go back to work to see yet another young person struggling with substance abuse and theft. I listened to people all around me tear my faith to shreds because of the actions of others, yet in the same conversation I heard but you are different, you have faith yet you still honor humanity.
You have faith yet you still honor humanity. That one statement nearly brought me to tears in part because they saw something different in my life and respected it, but there was so much pain in the words. There was pain because somewhere in the past someone deeply injured this person through words and actions that jaded their understanding of what life with Christ truly means. I went to bed that night thinking; actually I was up nearly most of the night contemplating this issue. Begging God to give us all another chance to show the truth and light to the world around us, because in that person’s words all I heard was we have failed to honor our God because we failed to love our neighbors.
This is the essence of what Jesus was talking about in His Sermon on the Mount, the dichotomy of words and actions of the religious. It is said, Jesus repeatedly says in this sermon. He points out the teaching of the religious in many cases, it is said do not murder… It is said do not commit adultery… It was said, give a certificate of divorce… It was said an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth… love you neighbor and hate your enemy. For most of those statements what was said was correct, but the actions did not reflect what was said in those words.
You have faith yet you still honor humanity. With that simple statement, which was given in complete honesty and genuine respect I realized that often those of us called by the name of Christ have missed the point. It does not take long watching the news to see just how often very well-meaning religious people have diligently held up the letter of the law yet with their words often do not shine the light of Christ to the very ones they hope to encourage. Often we are caught in the “it was said” statements
I tremble as I speak because I know that every word that I say has consequences, once the words leave my mouth I cannot take them back and once the sound waves hit your ears your minds may interpret them differently than the mind that uttered them. I know that it could be thought that I just lowered a standard, that some might think that I have just diminished the place of scripture but please bear with me, and listen.
Jesus in his “It was said,” statements was saying that the interpretation of the law was not adequate not the law itself. Interpretation is not the Spirit behind the words but instead mankind’s understanding of it. Jesus was accused of diminishing the law that was given to Moses by God’s very finger, but in reality he was upholding and deepening the understanding of what scripture was saying. Jesus was telling them that it is not enough to merely keep the law, but to remember honor the humanity of those around you.
Today, we are faced with the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This is a legitimate biblical statement. You could look up the cross-reference and find every place in scripture it was mentioned, but if we only look at the words and do not look at the context, or if we do not contemplate the reason behind the law we may miss the point totally. When we look at this law, we would find that there was a reason for the wording that is used; the meaning in context was to ensure the penalty for an offence did not exceed the offence itself. The law was given to prevent vengeance, yet as time moved away from the initial presentation of the law the interpretation has been twisted and instead of preventing revenge many began using the very words of God to promote vengeful actions. They had faith but failed to honor humanity.
Jesus in His teaching urges us to take a different path. It was said, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer.” Do not resist the evildoer, how many of us just quickly run over that statement as we read this? In the New Revised Standard Version, Do, is capitalized, this struck me as odd. I looked it up and found that the translators of the King James Version also capitalized the beginning of that statement, as did the translators of the New International version. These biblical scholars deemed it necessary to forego proper English grammar to capitalize a word in the middle of a sentence without it being a proper name. It is as if it is highlighted so we will not miss the point. I do not know if there was a grammatical reason why the translators did this but I found it odd, that it has been done in nearly every English translation. Now back to the point, Do not resist the evildoer. Jesus is literally saying eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is not something that you personally are to do anything about. It is not our place to enact justice; we are not to resist the evildoers personally.
This is very uncomfortable for us to consider, because we as Americans are used to standing up for our rights and we take our rights very seriously. If someone attempts to do us wrong we are quick to demand justice, but Jesus is saying Do not resist. If we do not resist then where does that leave us? If we do not stand up for ourselves who will? This is where the next statements become more important. “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” Jesus is telling us Do not resist but stand firm. To be stuck on the right cheek is to be physically insulted, but our response is not to get revenge but to continue to stand firm in our faith even in the face of persecution.
Jesus moves on to say if someone sues you give them more than they ask and if they force you to go a mile to offer to carry the burden an additional mile. These again are dehumanizing and insulting things to have happen. These actions defuse the situation and it actually removes the argument from the evildoers.
I know it sounds like a losing battle that we will lose everything if we do not resist, but this actually empowers us. It removes the need to use force upon us and opens the door for us to teach out of love.
Jesus then says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” This portion of scripture is one that is highly contested, because there is no reference to where this particular teaching to hate the enemy directly implied. But it goes back to the question who is your neighbor. Neighbor can mean many things like the word we translate as brother. In many interpretations of this word law to love the neighbor it was implied that it was those of the same faith or nation, all outside of that were not equal and the law did not necessarily apply to them. In Luke’s version of this sermon Jesus was asked the question of who is our neighbor and Jesus then told one of his most famous parables, the parable of the Good Samaritan. The word neighbor simply means a person nearby. It is not someone who has similar beliefs, not only those that agree with you, someone who speaks your language, or even from the same country. Simply if they are nearby they deserve the same love as anyone else.
This is where things get more difficult. It is fairly easy to love or to take pleasure in those near us, but it is much more difficult enjoy the presence of an enemy. How can we take pleasure in someone who is hateful, detestable, or hostile to us? This is where honoring the humanity of others is important, this is where listening, turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile comes in handy. If we honor those that oppose us as people equal to us we take the fuel away from the fire, because if they are detestable to us chances are very good that we are the same for them, but if we treat those that oppose our views with respect suddenly they must answer the questions.
These are extremely difficult statements. I like everyone else enjoy my rights, I like everyone else dislikes it when people treat me poorly especially when it comes to beliefs that I hold as important. Yet I look at the way Jesus responded to those around Him. He was very passionate, yet in His passion He honored those around Him. He only used harsh terms on those that lived as hypocrites, yet even in those cases he continued to entertain the company of those that opposed his views. He was willing to sit at the table with the sinners as well as the religious leaders and took pleasure at that table. This tells us just a bit about God.
Jesus says that God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. God even though we so often times are living as an enemy to Him still cares for us. Even though we tend to make a mess out of His creation He still takes pleasure in us. Even though we reject the ways of God so often He still sent His Son to us and Jesus willingly came even while we were detestable, hateful, vile enemies of His. He came and sat down at the tables of people just like us, yet he took pleasure in it. Even when the enmity got so bad He joyfully endured the pain and shame of the cross. Why?
We rejected Him yet He found joy in that rejection. He found joy, because to honor God we must love our neighbor. To love God we must honor the humanity of those near us. This stops the current course and causes those around us to reconsider their views.
Jesus ends this section by saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is where we so often fail. This is where the words spoken by my friend cut the deepest, the words, “you have faith yet you still honor humanity.” Be perfect. If our faith is perfect faith it should reflect the one in which we are faithful to. Yet so often those outside of our faith find us to be hateful, vengeful, and detestable. They see us as hypocrites because we claim perfection but often we exhibit something else. The problem again is the interpretation of perfect. The word translated as perfect in this passage could also mean genuine, complete, mature, adult, or initiated. Be genuine as your heavenly father is genuine. This changes everything. Be honest, be humble, and be real. Treat those around us with mature adult responses, filled with love and grace.
You have faith yet you honor humanity. What does that statement mean? This statement came out of observation. This particular individual saw other rip into me, saw people laugh in my face when I expressed my beliefs, had argued with me on various topics yet continues to speak to me. They themselves have often been the ones laughing. You have faith yet you honor humanity. I have not changed what I have said to them, and they are fully aware that I am not perfect, but they see something genuine. They observed me as I make every attempt to live my faith out in my daily life even when it is hard.
You have faith yet you honor humanity. Words spoken, actions taken, and lives lived in front of those around us. Jesus came not as an enemy but as salvation, providing the way out of a lifestyle commanded by cycles of hate, revenge, and other selfish desires. He gives us something new and something real that changes our entire life now and for the ages to come. He shows us that life, the kingdom life, by how He interacted with those around Him. By loving God the Heavenly Father genuinely in worship, by embracing the Holy Spirit in prayer, and by living a life of love by serving those around him. You have faith yet you honor humanity. Our love for God is not complete unless we are willing to take on the life of Christ in our own lives, having faith yet honoring humanity.
Scripture- Matthew 5:21-37
The Sermon on the Mount for me is one of the most difficult sets of scripture to speak about. I say thing because I am fairly confident that among the verses I have failed the God that I love more than anything multiple times. I would venture to say that as I read these sixteen verses we have each cringed just a bit, because Jesus does not sugar coat his words instead He is about as straight forward as one can be. We could spend an entire month on these verses, contemplating and reflecting on them not only on Sunday morning but every morning, afternoon, and evening without really getting a thorough explanation. Each paragraph has a wealth of words riding on the very breath of God that cut deeply into our souls like a sharp cold wind piercing through our winter attire.
I stand knowing that the moment I begin to speak I am the greatest hypocrite when it comes to living these words out. I stand yet I know that there is something that we each need to hear. The number one reason so many people turn their backs on the church and the community dedicated to encouraging a relationship with God is because so many people with in the community are hypocrites. We scoff at this statement saying cliché things like where else should they be trying to lessen the sting of such harsh words. The reason people reject God in many cases are because the people. The odd thing is the number one reason people often begin their journey with God is also because of people. People that have taken the time to build a friendship with them, people that have met them at the level they were at and then walked with them as they struggled to come to term with the love of God.
We could look at these sixteen verses and pick out the sin and hypocritical aspects of our lives or could just acknowledge that we each have fallen short and at this moment realize that we need to turn, to repent, to run the other direction from certain activities we participate in because those activities are grieving the Spirit of God that is wooing our souls at this very moment.
Today instead of focusing on the singularity of these spiritual debilitating activities, I would like us to look deeper at how each of these are connected, and what the root of the issue is. Anger, murder, adultery, dishonesty, divorce each has a root in the exploitation or dehumanization of other. Each of these sins are centered on an unhealthy and prideful self that is focused on lifting oneself higher instead of blessing the community around them.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times…” Jesus begins with the basic laws of the Mosaic Laws. It was said… this term does not mean that they have had everything wrong, but that they have not gone deep enough. Murder is the taking of a life. This has been interpreted in various ways because taking a life very serious. This one command has been translated as murder or killing which has vast differences in interpretation. One term, kill, is very broad covering the unintentional taking of life, death due to battle, abortion, revenge, or even the rendering of justice. Where the other, murder, is more directed to the intention taking of a life by the hands of another. It was said… there are vast interpretations to this command against killing, which is why in ancient times as the Hebrew people began to settle into the land of promise they established cities of refuge. These cities were set aside to protect individual from the vengeful retaliation of others in case of unintentional death. Why were cities like these established? I would venture to say they were established to protect the life. When a society is bent on repaying death with death, blow with blow, wrong with wrong we lose our humanity. We become locked in a never-ending cycle of retaliation and revenge those on the opposing side are no longer seen as brothers or equals but instead as lesser beings, not quite as human as us.
There is a grave danger when we fail to see the humanity in others. Women in most cultures have been seen as lower than men as a result they have been mistreated, often they were seen as the highest valued livestock. Then among women in these cases there were the wives and the concubines that also had greater and lesser status, one being greater than the other and valued more, while each being dehumanized. This dehumanization is the root of the slave trade of history as well as in current times, yes there are still slave today, more slaves than there where in the darkest days of American history. It is estimated that there are 27 million people today living in slavery. A slave is person that has been dehumanized in the eyes of others and since they are less than human people can justify the exploitation of their life.
This cycle of exploitation begins with misplaced anger. Anger is a dangerous emotion. Anger if not held in check can build into hatred. Hatred then can lead into actions that are based not on truth but emotional opinions meant to exploit and dehumanize others. But Jesus was angry, we quickly say to ourselves, so surely it is not all bad. I agree, emotions are not wrong; it is what we allow our emotions to do that cause us to lose sight of God and enter into the darkness of sin. Jesus was angry with the venders in the temple, he was angry because these venders were exploiting others in the name of God; they were taking advantage of a situation for their own gain. They saw the people coming to worship not as humans but as a means to their own financial gain. Jesus had a righteous anger, an emotional response with the goal to humanize the exploited.
Our anger is not always held in check, our anger is not always experienced in disciplined manner. Sadly some of the most undisciplined exhibitions of raw emotions are performed among those that claim to love. The people today neglect church because often those in church dehumanize and exploit those around them. It is hard to see at times, because we have become so accustomed to our own actions, we have justified our actions to such a degree that we are no better then the Pharisees whom Jesus called whitewashed tombs of bones. We focus on our own agenda, we hold grudges, we neglect apologies and we do so because we were right. The problem is that being right in an argument has no value unless we honor the humanity of those around us.
Jesus went so far as say, “… [If] you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” These words are spoken of not just anger but the undisciplined expression of our speech in the heat of an argument. It speaks of the exploitive nature of our language and the inability to disagree agreeably. How often we fall into the trap of our passions where we speak before we think and end up with our feet firmly planted in our mouths. How often do we fail to listen to what is being said and jump to a conclusion starting our next statement before we even hear a response? How often do we ask the wrong questions, which lead to responses that keep us from honoring and promoting the spark of God within an individual. When we fail to be disciplined in speech, when we fail to control our emotions, we will be found dehumanizing those around us, and in the process we may be quieting the very voice that God is using to direct the next step He is encouraging us to make.
Anger, adultery, divorce, murder, and our word each of these sections of this sermon delivered by Jesus revolve around honoring those around us, putting everyone on a equal status as equally human and equally loved by God. How well are we doing? Daily I catch myself failing to live up to the name I claim in Christ. I fail because often I am living in my own power. We cannot love the way God loves; we cannot honor others the way God desires us to honor in our own power. That is the essence of our sinful nature. We cannot do it because we are selfish by nature. We want the glory and honor ourselves. That is why in the story of Eden our first parents ate of the tree. They desired to be equal to God, masters of their own destiny, they wanted to be god. Immediately they began to accuse and dehumanize each other, Adam blames Eve and Eve deflects to another. “I am not the problem,” they say, “but it was this lesser being you put here.” Dehumanization.
We fail all to often. Our community, our world, is falling apart around us running from God and we blame others. The truth of it is that our world is the way it is because we allowed it. We have failed to live up to our name in Christ. We hear news reports and our responses are not in equality but dehumanized exploitive. It’s the gang’s fault, it’s the democrats or republicans, it’s Hollywood’s fault, and it is never my fault. Our schools fail because we allow them to fail. Our neighborhoods have fallen apart because we have allowed them to. We pull back blaming others when I am the problem.
This is why Jesus came. This is why Jesus was born that day in Bethlehem. This is why Jesus gave this sermon and taught His followers on the mountainside, in the fields, and on the sea. He came to meet us where we are, showing us that we have been placing the blame on others that we have been dehumanizing and exploiting everyone around us. But Jesus shows us a different path, which is a different lifestyle. He showed us that the lifestyle cannot be focused on ourselves but must be lived with God and others.
Jesus shows us that the first step, for those of us who claim to be his followers, begins in worship. God is the source of love and true wisdom, He is the breath and Father of life, and we cannot begin to change without first acknowledging and honoring the one from whom our life comes. Jesus made it His custom to worship in the meeting places of the faithful, when He entered a town He would take time to worship with the community at the synagogue, it did not matter if it was a mega synagogue or one that was nearly falling apart He worshiped because worship gives us a right view of ourselves. We are creatures created by God, here for a purpose, to be in communion with our Creator.
Jesus would also withdraw often to a desolate place away from others to pray. He would withdraw to embrace that intimate relationship of love between the creator and the creature. This is embracing the Holy Spirit, or nurturing and deepening our relationship with God. This time of prayer and embracing of the Spirit is expressing our needs, our failures, and our desires to our Lord as well as reading, studying, and meditating on scripture as we allow God to speak to us as well. It is a conversation and an intimate relationship. It is in these times where God will show us how to improve ourselves and where he will provide his strength in our weaknesses. It is during these times of prayer, where we will begin to see where we have shown dehumanizing actions and how to change our ways. It is in these times of prayer where God will direct us and when we embrace His correction He will then send us out to change the world where we are.
Jesus would then engage with the community, healing the sick, answering questions, encouraging the disciples, and teach the masses. It is through the prayer, the conversation with the Father in the Spirit, that He would then begin to serve other. He shows us that in this lifestyle, the lifestyle of the kingdom of God we too will be sent out to serve, and to live the love of Christ with others. It is in this service where we begin to rebuild our communities, reconcile the dehumanizing actions we have allowed to occur, and stop the exploitation of those deemed lesser than us. We share the love of God by feeding the hungry, giving a coat to someone that needs one, repairing the car of the single mother who trying to get to her job so she can feed her children. We live the love of Christ when we meet people where they are, not in judgment because that is a form of exploitations, but in encouragement. Encouraging them by our generosity, encouraging them by our kind words, encouraging them with our tactful teaching and urging to walk the path to Christ.
When we leave the lifestyle of exploitation and enter into this lifestyle of Christ we will begin to see the world change around us. We will begin to see men treating their wives differently, we will begin to see people living not out of anger or lust but out of generosity and respect, we will begin to see the end of exploitation and the beginnings of encouragement.
How often have I failed, how often we as Christians have failed to truly be the people God has called us to be. But Jesus is giving us an opportunity to turn it around, to rebuild the world that we have allowed to falter, to bring in the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. As we enter into this time of open worship, and holy expectancy let us allow God to examine our lives, let us repent of our failures and let us ask God for the forgiveness and strength to change, let us begin to see His kingdom come in our lives so we can encourage and honor those around us with honesty, and humility.
Scripture: Matthew 5:13-20
We live in an era that is in the middle of a crossroad in history. Often it feels as if we are not on a path but in the middle of a busy intersection. Traffic is coming at us from all directions. If you were standing in the center of a busy intersection you would have a right to be fearful, every step taken could be the last. What we are feeling as we live in this crossroads of history is not uncommon. People throughout history have felt this way as they have faced major changes occurring around them.
We face changes every day. Technology has advanced at such a pace that a mere decade ago emerging technologies in computer sciences thought to be radical are now the backbone of the Internet. The table revolutionized by Apple’s IPad is now so common that you can purchase something similar for as little as $60. All of these devices that we can hold in the palm of our hand had their origins in massive machines that filled rooms. I have a great uncle that worked and programmed those massive computers and has lived to see the rapid progress, what was once a dream in their minds as they walked through the computer he actually saw shrink to fit on a desk, to the lap, to the smart phone.
This rapid pace is best seen in the computer science industry because most of us here are aware of it. But that is not the only industry that has changed at this pace. Since 1960 to 2010 the average yield of wheat has nearly doubled. This is also seen in every agricultural crop. This is the direct result of various agricultural sciences from biochemistry to genetic engineering. Each of these advances have allowed great advances while the percentage of arable land is decreasing at a rate of nearly 1% every 10 years. In the United States the life expectancy has increased an average of 3 years since 2000, and some analysts estimate that in the next fifty years our world’s population may reach 14 billion people. All that change and yet modern agriculture is staying ahead, still providing enough food to feed us. How that is distributed is still an issue but that is for another sermon.
All this change occurring all around us comes with fear. People fear the advancing technology expecting that one day we will be controlled by the very computers we now use to post funny videos of cats. People fear the food we eat to the point that if it says organic we are willing to pay extra, and it does not take any time at all to find opposition to GMO’s. We live in an era that is caught in a whirlpool of fear and often we are caught as well. Daily you can tune into any religious radio or TV station and hear a sermon about how the end of the world is just around the corner citing numerous news reports as proof. But each of us has heard these sermons for our entire lives, I am not saying that it is not a possibility but it is not a guarantee.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say it is ok to fear to a degree. At times when we see a problem the initial fear can drive us to make changes and improvements. There is a reason average yields have increased in agriculture because we fear food shortages and are driven to increase. The key is not to live a life controlled by fear.
I mention this as we look at this scripture because I think that that is the very attitude and mindset of the first century people. They too were living in a cross road of a rapidly changing world. And Jesus says to them, “You are the Salt of the earth.”
Salt is an amazing substance. This crystalline powder we have just laying around the house is one of the most dangerous and harmless substances known to mankind. This one substance is used to bring flavor, healing, famine, preservation, and decay. It is a very loaded word. We use salt to preserve and slow the process of putrefaction in meat. But salt can also used to increase the rate of decomposition of organic matter. That is why beef jerky has a high concentration of salt, and why salt is present in many fertilizers. But salt was also used as a weapon of mass destruction in ancient times as they would spread it over fields to kill crops, this is also why over fertilization of our house plants can actually turn the tips of the leaves brown. Depending on the use salt can remove water or increase heat so it is very useful.
You are the salt of the earth. What do you think Jesus is saying? I want us to look at this from a different perspective than we usually do. As we read this statement our eyes immediately recognize the word you, so it is easy to look at this from the individualistic perspective, but I would like us instead to look at it from the perspective of the last word earth or the world. That is the place we the salt are to be, this crazy, chaotic, rapidly changing, full of fear world. What are we to be doing here?
You are the flavor of the earth, you are the preservation of the earth, and you are the healing of the earth. Or you are the cause of famine in the earth; you are the decomposition of the earth. What is Jesus saying? These are all uses of salt and activities we can participate in as humans living in this world. This passage of scripture just got very confusing didn’t it?
You are the salt of the earth. There is an aspect of salt that was not very common in first century Judea but one that we today this week are very familiar with, the ability to melt ice. I want us to begin with this aspect of salt in our crossroad analogy. Life controlled by fear often freezes us. It can harden our hearts and prevents us from moving. If we were caught unexpectedly in the center of an intersection fear would grip us causing us to stop where we are. If fear controls us at that point we would stand right where we were hoping that by standing we would be preserved. But we are the salt of the earth we cannot stay in the middle of the road but must get moving. Salt can begin to melt away the fear and hardness allowing us to think through the situation, we can begin to see a pattern and a rhythm to the traffic and begin to work our way across to the other side.
Salt can begin to melt the icy hearts of those caught in the world. You are the salt of the earth. You are to spread the salt over the people around you letting it work itself into their hearts where little by little they begin to open up to the Spirit of God.
You are the salt of the earth. As the ice begins to melt, we start adding flavor. This flavor is the relational aspect of faith. We build friendships, laughing and crying with one another. We share life and encourage growth. As we add salt the fear slowly decays and we begin to provide healing. As fears decay a hunger is created which must be satisfied, again we add flavor to fill the void. Little by little there is preservation.
You are the salt of the earth. The problem with salt is we can also miss use it. If you let the salt sit too long on your car it will eventually start to promote rust. If we eat too much salt it can cause our blood pressure to increase, which can cause death. If we dump salt on a field it will eventually cause that land to become unable to support life. So with the blessing also comes a warning. You are the salt but you are at work in the world. The world around us is fragile; a little salt can encourage and promote life, but too much could render our efforts dead. Relationships are important, learning to read and respond to others is important. To assist in the healing of others we first need to build a relationship so that we can know where to start. The Apostle Paul explained it as milk and meat. You give babies milk but eventually you build up into solid foods.
Light is another great word. You are the salt but you are also the light of the world. The words translated, as light in ancient Geek and Hebrew is pregnant with various meanings. Light is often referred to as the presence of God, which is why light was very important and still is important in many religious ceremonies. Light also references wisdom or knowledge from God, so it is the inspiration that drives our lives. Light like salt adds flavor. There is a reason we manipulate light. The stain glass of cathedrals casting the colorful designs of light can inspire and promote people in worship. The reflection of light is what we admire as we view classic and contemporary art. Light reveals things that were once hidden in darkness.
You are the light of the world. You are the promoter of wisdom and the teacher of knowledge, you are the inspirational and thought provoking work of art, and you are the awe-inspiring stained glass mosaic. You are the light of the world.
Jesus then speaks of righteousness and that to be a part of the kingdom of God our righteousness must exceed that of the most religious of His day. This too is loaded because what is righteousness? Is it the legalistic keeping of a list of laws or is it something fundamentally different? It is light of the world; it is salt of the earth. It is living a life encouraging others to take a step out of fear and inspiring others to emerge from the shadows. It is adding flavor and providing healing. It is building the relationships and walking the pathways of life with others nurturing the fragile souls around us.
With the blessing comes the warning. The source of the salt and light does not originate in us, we cannot be salt and light without first receiving it from elsewhere. The origin of the light within and the flavor of life is God himself. If we lose our saltiness, if we misuse what has been given to us we stop the flow of his power to us. Our salt what we once used to encourage becomes no better than blowing sand stinging the skin and driving people away from the very God who loves them enough to come to live, teach and die for them.
Being salt and light is difficult, because it requires us to constantly refresh. We cycle in and out in a rhythm of life. It requires discipline, study, and a lot of work. It requires that we sacrifice ourselves so that someone else might be preserved.
We live in an era that needs more salt and light. We live in a time with great challenges that require inspiration to overcome. We live in a time of rapid change with fears that need to be dissolved and icy hearts that need melted. We live in a day seasoned so heavily that we cannot taste what is good. You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world. God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting, or preserved life. You are, we are the ones God wants to use to facilitate the preservation of the world. How will we respond? Will we respond with coarse overpowering words and actions, or tactful flavorful deeds? Will we respond and will we be salt and light? Will we be a people loving God, Embracing the Holy Spirit, and living the love of Christ with others? And will you let God do His work through you?