Salt and Light

Jesus declared God’s people to be the Salt of the earth and the Light of the word.

“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.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

For most Christians these verses have become like poetry or a sentimental nicety, disregarding the practical reality Christ revealed.

So let’s take a moment to consider what we are being told by the Lord of all creation.

Firstly note two different and yet similar statements, about us being like salt and like light. Both salt and light have influence, so it seems like two ways of saying the same thing. It’s as if God is saying “pay attention to the influence you have on the world around you”.

Digging a litter deeper, however, we note that the salt is related to the earth and light is related to the world. They are similar things, but each has their own meaning and significance.

In the original text the ancient language word for ‘earth’ refers to the soil and symbolises such things as a country, the ground, the land and the world. It has a terrestrial significance.

In the Bible we see that lands come under curses, based on such things as innocent blood shed on the land. God talked of restraining the rain when His people would not honour Him.

God promised that the land would be healed if God’s people responded properly.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

So being the ‘salt of the earth’ suggests our righteousness bringing impact on the land or nation in which we live. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin brings negative things.

“Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

In a nation full of righteous people the nation can expect to prosper and be the head and not the tail, even if its leaders and many in the land or not righteous. Note that the presence of some righteous people can spare even an evil land, such as God’s willingness to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were just ten righteous people.

You are the salt of the earth in your land. Your land prospers or goes backwards, based on your standing before God.

If you lose your saltiness you become worthless and you get trampled on by others. Have you noticed that in some nations where Christianity was once revered there is now a readiness for the community to stomp on Christians. Maybe it’s because of a loss of saltiness and now the Christians are being trampled on by others.

When Jesus referred to us being ‘light’ he did not talk about the earth or the land, but the culture or society. The original language word is ‘kosmos’.

“You are the light of the world (the cosmos)”.

The suggestion this time is not that we impact the prosperity or wellbeing of the land, but that we shine light on our culture. 

One key reason for that is that light exposes and dispels darkness.

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and won’t come to the light because their evil deeds will be exposed.” John 3:20

“Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather reprove and expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

“Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that exposes things is a light.” Ephesians 5:13

So we see that we are to impact our culture, standing up for godly values in a world which wants to engage in dark and selfish things. That doesn’t mean we will be loved for that, but more likely despised, since those who love darkness will be disturbed by us. But they won’t have power over us, since light dispels darkness.

By shining our light we create an environment where dark things cannot operate and have to go somewhere else to find a friendly home.

Note, though, that Jesus prompts us to let our light shine. Many Christians hold to godly things, in a hidden way. Maybe they are afraid that by shining their light they will get into trouble. Jesus, on the other hand, prompts us to let our light shine so that men will see the good we are doing and glorify God.

So, with those few reflections in mind, let me remind you once more of the words of Christ.

“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.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

I call on you to live out your calling as Salt and your calling as Light in your life, your home, your workplace, your community and your nation. The earth and the world will be blessed by you if you will just be what God has made you: Salt and Light!

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