February 21, 2014
Salt and Light
By Skip Heitzig
When I was young I used to work in an Italian delicatessen, and I still remember how the meat smelled if it was left out too long, as it spoiled and became rotten.
In ancient times, salt was rubbed into meat to keep it from spoiling. When Jesus said (in Matthew 5:13-16) that we are salt and light, He was implying that the world is decaying and dark, that it needs salt rubbed into it and light shined upon it. Wherever salt and light are, they change their environment. Jesus was telling his disciples, “You’re going to make an impact. You will influence this world.”
First, we are to be salt (see v. 13). Salt preserves from corruption. Christians are to retard decay, to be a moral disinfectant. We are to be the example, to behave differently, to treat people differently.
Salt adds flavor. Some foods are very tasteless unless you add a pinch of salt. People want something that makes life meaningful. As salt is to food, so Christians are to be to life.
Salt cleanses from disease. Salt can be used medicinally, to kill bacteria, but it also stings when applied. We shouldn’t try to offend, but we also shouldn’t water down the truth. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). That’s the balance.
Salt creates thirst. This world is spiritually dehydrated, and as salt we point the way to the drinking fountain of living water.
And we are to be light (v. 14). Light is a metaphor for the cleansing effect of the truth upon the darkness of sin. Light destroys darkness wherever it goes.
Light is visible. The Christian life is to be lived publicly, out in the open before men. You can’t be a “secret agent Christian.”
Light reveals what is in the darkness. Darkness covers things, but light shows the flaws. Jesus said, “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Light shows the way out of darkness. We are to lead men and women out of darkness into light, away from sin and into the truth.
So remember: You’re different from the world, and don’t be afraid to be different. You are noticed; you’re being observed. You’re responsible to keep that salty edge, to lift the lamp. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). And you are needed. A world that is dark and decadent desperately needs salt and light.
This portion of scripture, more than any other, reminds me how remarkable it is to be a Christian in this world. What an honor and a privilege, in the midst of decay and darkness, to be called salt and light, to be a representative of the kingdom of God!
A little boy, after seeing the light coming through the stained glass windows in church, told his parents that a saint is “a person that the light shines through.” So shine brightly, attract people, and make a difference.
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