Sunday 5 February, 2023
Reflection: "Salt and Light"
Salt and light are pretty ordinary things to us today, but you might look on them differently if you lived a few thousand years ago in Israel.
No refrigeration meant that their meat had to be salted to keep it for more than a day or two.
And once the sun went down, you only had dull candles and oil lamps by which to see.
Jesus says to his followers:
“You are the salt of the earth!
You are the light of the world!”
I’m sure he wasn’t talking about white granular crystals falling out of the disciples’ clothes as they walked around, or physical light, like a torch, beaming from their faces, but it was more about their presence flavouring the environment in which they lived and a personal light; the light of faith, hope and love.
The very light of God within us and radiating from us.
But wait a minute, did he say that we are the salt and light of the world?
That’s a pretty big call to make, because surely we can’t be that important, can we?
As we read in Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, gifts such as these come from God, not man, and are bestowed on us through the spirit.
“Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds, and give glory to God in heaven.”
Well, does the light shine through us?
Do we add flavour to the lives of others and do our lives give glory to God?
I’m not trying to verbally box anyone about the ears with accusations about their failure to be the light of the world.
I’m not trying to kick start anyone into freely doing more Christian things.
(that is: “Christ-ian”, of the family of Christ, or Christ-like).
I’m pretty sure that you, like me, have plenty of room for improvement.
But I’m not seeking to take any of us on a guilt trip.
There’s a much healthier and more faithful direction for us to go when reading this message.
What Jesus actually said to his followers was: “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.”
You are - you are now.
Not - you could be or should be.
Not - tidy up your act, stiffen your backbones and commence trying.
Not - maybe in ten years’ time, or if you work very hard, perhaps by the end of the year.
What our Lord said was more immediate, more of a gob-smacking surprise.
“By trusting the unexpected, un-earnable, grace of God, as it flows to you through my words and deeds, you are, right now – the salt and light of the world.”
Though it’s not really our salt and light, but his, and it’s not by any of our strenuous efforts, but by the pure grace of God.
Jesus must have been like pepper up the noses of the religious authorities in ancient Israel.
They taught: If you keep all the laws and regulations of the Old Testament and observe the additional 613 by-laws that our rabbis have added - for your own good, of course. If you ritually wash and purify yourself each day, if you make the requisite sacrifices at the temple, and avoid any contact or fellowship with the despicable non-Jews, then.... just maybe, you may begin to be a little light in the darkness of the world.
Not so with Jesus, whose only requirement was for us to accept the free gift of love that God offers.
Simply to come as we are and just open your windows to the light, allowing it to touch even the dusty corners of our hearts and souls.
Then, without any question, we will show that we are the light of the world.
The salt and light of God are gifts to be lovingly accepted and cherished - then freely shared with others.
We might doubt that we’re capable of achieving this, but I can attest that we ARE all able to do whatever God asks of us.
Friends, take courage.
This is not a silly claim of mine that I’m repeating here.
It’s the claim of Jesus, of whom it was said: “He knew what was in the heart of men.”
As long as our lives remain open to his Spirit, we shall be, in spite of our confounded defects, the salt and light of the world.
The tiny bits of faith, hope and love that the grace of God has sown in our mind and heart, qualify us to be the bearers of the word of Christ Jesus – the Gospel.
For God’s sake, and for the sake of those around you, have more faith in the gift.
Don’t fall into the temptation of despising yourself and giving up.
After all, it’s God’s salt and God’s light, not your failings, that count.
Never yield to despair.
Christ is always greater than your darkness.
Christians like Peter, John, and Paul, Mary and Martha; and many other notable disciples, all had their failures on a grand scale, yet they were indeed beacons in a dark world.
There’s only one thing that can prevent the light of Christ from shining through us and that’s if we choose to hide it.
To be a secret Christian is not a valid option - we need to share it or lose it.
God won’t withdraw the light, but because he gave us free will, we can choose to cover it up.
Should we choose to do this, maybe like putting a bucket over a candle, then the light, starved of oxygen, will decline to a flicker, then degenerate to acrid smoke, smoulder a while and then grow cold.
We have to choose - do we want to put out God’s light?
The grace of God comes to us, undiluted and free.
But, like that forsaken man hanging on the cross, grace is not impervious to human rejection.
So would you rather be a strong, salty taste, or an insipid tasteless being?
A bright light, shining for God, or a tiny candle, tucked safely under a bucket, who’s about to be snuffed out when the oxygen runs out.
Keep your saltiness pure and beam your light into the world.
Get out there and tell others about the gospel of Jesus and then you truly will be the salt and light of God.
Vaya con Dios………….Pastor Rick
Lena Beryl Blok
4/2/2023 09:16:39 am
Thank you Rick for this challenging message. How important it is to let our light shine for Jesus.
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