Salt and Light

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Introduction:

Last week we began our new sermon series Kingdom Culture and we took a brief look at the opening of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5 and the essential character qualities that Christ desires for us to have. We learned that there are 8 essential characters; the essential character of humility, repentance, submission, yearning, compassion, authenticity, reconciliation, and joy in persistence.

Today we are going to be looking at Matthew 5:13-16 and you can turn there now if you have your bibles or your bible app on your device and it will also be on the screens.

In Iowa, there is a grocery chain called Hy-Vee (picture) that began in a little town and has grown to have locations all over the Midwest. As a teenager, it is almost a rite of passage to work there as a courtesy clerk, cashier, or stocker. I first started working there when I was 16 and then when I went to college. While in college, I went home for a summer and transferred to the local Hy-Vee and they put me in the Meat Department (Picture).

They said that they would give me all the training I needed to learn how to cut meat. Working in a department is a great move from being a cashier but I didn’t know what to think about the Meat Department.

I have a lot of stories from my years working in the Meat Department but there is one thing you learn very quickly. You must keep your eyes on the products to keep them from spoiling and if they do, to dispose of them.

One of the additives in all of our meat products is salt (picture). Without it, the meat would spoil long before we would ever have a chance to put it out on the shelves or in the case and purchase it.

Salt is considered one of the key essentials to life – every home, no matter how poor would have salt.

That is where we pick up the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus teaching.

Here now the Word of the Lord from Matthew 5:13-16.

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. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Prayer

Movement 1:

Last week we explored the beatitudes – the essential character traits of Christ-followers. As one person stated the be-attitudes, are the attitudes we are to be. If the beatitudes are about the character of the disciples of Jesus, then the metaphors we read today about salt and light, indicate the influence of those essential characters for good in the world.

Jesus as He is speaking, is well aware of the importance of salt and light and the metaphors he is using. As a boy, Jesus would have watched his mother use salt in the kitchen and light the lamps when the sun went down.

Salt and light in His time and ours are indispensable household commodities.

While a lights importance seems obvious, the importance of salt can be somewhat elusive perhaps because we take it for granted.

Unlike in ancient times, salt is pretty prevalent.

Story: Salt Flats (picture)

The value of salt, especially in the ancient world can not be under estimated. Roman soldiers received their wages in salt. The Greeks considered salt to be divine. The Mosaic Law required that all offerings presented by the Israelites contain salt. (Lev. 2:13) When Jesus told his disciples that they were “the salt of the earth”, as recorded in Matthew 5:13, they understood the metaphor. While the universal importance of salt is not as readily apparent in our modern world, the mandate that Jesus gave to his first disciples is still relevant and applicable to His followers today.

Some of the many uses of Salt:

  • A preservative.
    • H.V. Morton has described the making of the dried meat of South Africa: “The meat, having been cut and trimmed to the required size, is well rubbed with coarse salt…If properly cured, it will keep indefinitely.”
    • In a world that is broken, followers of Christ are the preservatives of the world. They can hinder the decay of the world just like the decay of meat or fish. Also, to preserve the disciples from moral decay.
    • Prophetic speech is God’s way of preserving a rotting world.
    • The world is rotting away but the salt of the earth (the church, people of God) can save it.
  • Adds flavor
    • Pliny the Elder is credited with a common English phrase “take it with a grain of salt”. The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt.
    • We use salt as a condiment and it is in almost everything that we eat.
    • The Kingdom of God allows things that taste bad to be palatable
  • Creates thirst
    • Salt acts like a magnet and pulls water towards it in the body. When we inject too much salt, it triggers your body to produce more fluids to absorb the salt, creating thirst and the need for more water.
    • True Kingdom living inspires others to want what you have
  • Cleanses and heals wounds
    • A lot of bacteria are quite salt-sensitive. For them, a big dose of salt is a bit like putting salt on a slug. It pulls the water out of the bacteria and dehydrates them, which can damage or disable them.
    • Salt neutralizes and reduces acids in our body that are associated with potentially life-threatening diseases.
    • The minerals in the salt deeply cleans the pores, kills bacteria, and detoxifies the skin.
    • Healing properties of Kingdom Culture
  • Sustain hydration levels and enables movement
    • Salt, an electrolyte, plays a major role in extracellular fluids
    • Have to have salt for your muscles and joints to function
    • An imbalance can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headache and muscle spasms.
    • Epsom salt contains two important elements: magnesium and sulfate. These elements help the muscles and nerves in your body to function properly. Salt baths are a great remedy to reduce joint pain and arthritis.
    • When followers of Christ live out Kingdom culture and embrace their role as salt to the earth, it is a catalyst of movement from brokenness to wholeness.
  • Melts ice
    • Salt lowers the freezing point.
    • Someone can have a hardened heart but when the Kingdom of God truly shows up it can melt the hardest of hearts
  • Purifies
    • Salt works as an effective yet gentle scouring agent.
    • Salt also serves as a catalyst for other ingredients, such as vinegar, to boost cleaning and deodorizing action. For a basic soft scrub, make a paste with lots of salt, baking soda and dish soap and use on appliances, enamel, porcelain, etc. Clean sink drains.
    • Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ and the salt of believers in Christ is how God purifies and redeems our broken world.
    • Salt changes and transforms as it comes in contact with something.

“You are the salt of the earth” Kingdom culture changes the world.

As R.V.G. Tasker puts it, the disciples are “to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or non-existent.”

There is authority of laws in the state and in the home there is marriage and family, but God intends the most powerful of all restraints within a sinful society to be his own redeemed, regenerated, and righteous people.

The saltiness is the living of the beatitudes
But the effectiveness of salt is conditional – it must not lose its saltiness.

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.

How can salt lose its saltiness? A lot of salt was mined by the Dead Sea and the salt was impure, containing silt, vegetation, and other matter. Of the substances in the mix of salt, the Sodium chloride (NaCl) was the most soluble in water and if exposed to moisture, the Sodium chloride would disappear leaving a white powder looking just like salt, but not having its flavor or its preservative abilities.

If salt lost its saltiness it would be worthless.

In Christ we are salt – He doesn’t say be the salt he says you are the salt.

Salt that has lost its taste is because of contamination or diverting from/abandoning the gospel.

“Christian saltiness is Christian character as depicted in the beatitudes, committed Christian discipleship exemplified in both word and deed.” John RW Stott

The influence of Christians in and on society depends on their being distinct, not identical. It is that distinction, that saltiness that attracts people to the Gospel, even if they may hate it at first.

Movement 2: Light

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. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells His disciples, “You are the light of the world”. As “salt”, the Christian is to counteract the power of sin. As “light” we are to illuminate or make visible. Our lives are to be an on-going witness to the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. When we worship God with pure hearts, when we love others as ourselves, and when we do good without growing weary, we are lights shining. It is important, however to know that it is not our light, but the reflection of the Light of the world, Jesus Christ Himself, that people will see in us.

In Philippians 2:15, the apostle Paul says, “Believers, you are to shine as light in the world”. The Greek word used here is very similar to the word for the beacon that a lighthouse emits. That beacon is bright and unmistakable in its purpose. It warns of danger. It directs to safe harbor. It provides hope for those who have lost hope. Everyday we are surrounded by people groping around in the darkness, separated from the God who loves them. God uses His children, like beacons from a lighthouse, to show the way to Him.

Light brings life – photosynthesis.

We cannot imagine our life without light. From the first ray of Sun in the morning to the lamp in the night, light accompany us in all activities.

1 John 1:5-9

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Light shines bright.
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 11 it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Light conveys truth

John 8:12 – 12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Our light is not our light – it is a reflection of THE LIGHT. Intention of why we do what we do is important.

Movement 3:

The salt and light metaphors which Jesus uses have much to teach us about Christian responsibility in the world and we must see these as twofold.

Salt is primarily a negative, preventing decay whereas light is positive, illuminating the darkness.

Salt and light have one thing in common: the give and they expend themselves.

Salt and Light – to congregate and to spread Salt and light is influence of Christ in our world.

“One can no more escape his influence than he can run away from his own shadow”

Those who claim the name of Jesus are called to be salt – to spread the truth of Christ to hinder the decay of our world. We are to be rubbed into the community like salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it from going bad.

What happens if salt is not added to the meat? It goes bad. And who is going to blame the meat for going bad? No one because that is what is will do without salt. The real question is, where is the salt?

When our world is crumbling around us – where are we? Where is the salt Jesus declares us to be?

Salt will sting at first but it will bring healing.

We are to let our light shine to be the salt – not to gain fame or some other self-focused thing. Jesus is the light of the world – we are His reflection.

As we live out the culture of God’s Kingdom we are the salt and light of Christ.

Conclusion:

Our influence is dependent upon our character. If we live the beatitudes, we will become the salt and light to the world and God will be glorified.

But, we have a choice if we are going to be the salt of the earth and let our light shine. Are we going to lose our saltiness, or worse, never have the salt to begin with? Are we going to hide our light under a basket?

This past week has been another example in our nation as to the importance of our influence. John Maxwell simply defines leadership as…influence. Christ desires for us to have Kingdom influence in our culture that speaks to the truth of the gospel, that does not grieve the heart of God through disrespect, insensitivity, and dehumanization.

Every night I hold Hendrick in my arms and sing, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”

Christian salt takes effect by actions as well as words. God created governments and the family as social structures to restrain evil and encourage goodness.

“Christians have a responsibility to see that these structures are not only preserved but are also operated with justice. Too often evangelical Christians have interpreted their social responsibility in terms of helping the casualties of a sick society, and have done nothing to change the structures which cause the casualties. Just as doctors are concerned not only with the treatment of patients but also with preventative medicine and public health, so we should concern ourselves with what might be called preventative social medicine and higher standards of moral hygiene. However small our part might be, we cannot opt out of seeking to create better social structures, which guarantee justice in legislation and law enforcement, the freedom and dignity of the individual, civil rights for minorities, and the abolition of social and racial discrimination. We should neither despise these things nor avoid our responsibility for them. They are part of God’s purpose for his people.”

“But fallen human beings need more than barricades to stop from being as bad as they could be. They need regeneration, new life through the gospel. Hence our second vocation to be “the light of the world”. For the truth of the gospel is the light. We are called both to spread the gospel and to frame our manner of life in a way that is worthy of the gospel. So then, we should never put salt and light against each other as if we had to choose between them. The world needs both.”

Our responsibility is to influence our world to see that Kingdom ethic be cultivated and lived out. To be the salt that might sting but be the truth that is needed and be the light that is a reflection of the love of Christ that shines as a beacon of love and hope and peace to all people.

Response: Prayer
Song: Break Every Chain

Benediction:

May the Spirit of God shake us out into other people’s lives – as the taste and glory
of Christ that they might savor and see the goodness of God… wholly dependent on his

grace to bring understanding, faith, hope, and healing. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good. No longer hide in the darkness and in the shadows, but come live in the light of his grace, mercy, truth and love. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Now go in that truth.

Kingdom Culture Sermon Series Graphic
Kingdom Culture Sermon Series Graphic
Kingdom Culture Sermon Series Graphic