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Light on the Salt (Matthew 5:13-16)
Message #1 from "NT70 - 70 Days through the New Testament" by Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org), Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, July 3 (My notes are from our 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray they will be useful to you.)
--- You are the Salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13) ---
Salt - today, it's seen as an enemy, in terms of health. Throughout history, however, it had been one of the most valuable minerals. One of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War was over a salt mine. Roman solders were worth their salt - our modern word salary comes from a latin word salarium(?) - they were sometimes paid with salt instead of coins.
Salty Purpose (and Problems)
* It PRESERVES, but CAN MAKE USELESS.
* It PURIFIES, but CAN BE CAUSTIC.
* It SEASONS , but CAN OVERWHELM THE FLAVOR.
Salt prevents bacteria and cauterizes, slows the process of decay. Even can be used on wounds. Drop a few crystals in a glass of water and you change that water. Drop a few Christians in a group and you change that group. We will be able to slow the rate of decay in the world, in a place for a time.
Salt does not have its own flavor, but draws out the flavor that's already there. Our appreciation for the beauty of God helps us appreciate the beauty in the world. This is why many artists (especially before commercialism) were Christians. Why hospitals were started by Christians. Why large NGOs are Christian. We should value beauty more in this earth. And we should set the standard for loving and caring for people.
Too much salt erodes, is caustic if there's too much. Too much salt can overwhelm the flavor of the food.
If you're only known for what you're against, you're being too salty. (Example: Westboro of its protests against funerals and even *other churches.*. "Scourge of the earth" putting other Christians in a bad light.)
--- You are the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14-16) ---
Light Focus and Faults
* It EXPOSES DARKNESS, but CAN BE STARK.
* POINTS THE WAY, but MUST BE FOCUSED.
* To be SEEN, but NOT FOR ITSELF.
It does not take a lot of light to expose what's in the darkness. But it should point the direction out of darkness. If it's completely dark and someone comes in and just flips on a light - too much light all at once just makes you shut your eyes and exclaim negatively at being blinded.
Light shining in the darkness doesn't change what's in the darkness, but shines a light on a path out of darkness.
Does my life help people to see Jesus more clearly? Does it point in the right direction? Or does it just simply glare?
My light should expose darkness, show a better place (Jesus) and help people see how to get from here to there.
No such thing as "secret Christians" - it's only been in the past century or so where lighting fixtures themselves have become the focus. We shouldn't shine for ourselves but for Jesus. (Pastor doesn't mention it, but we can think of Christians who allow themselves -- or intentionally work -- to become the attraction themselves.)
--- Being Both ---
Salt alone can be caustic. Light alone can be glaring. But together they can be helpful.
* Understand, you ARE SALT AND LIGHT. Do it WELL!
Not that you are "like" or that you "will become" - but that you "ARE." Not something to can decide to be or something you can volunteer for. You don't have a choice about it - your choice is how well you'll do it.
* Get out of the SALT SHAKER and TURN ON YOUR LIGHT.
If we stay in the salt shaker, we have no purpose - we're just decoration. If we stay inside the church with our Christian friends, we are no good to the world. If we hide our faith, if we do not shine a light on Jesus, we are of no use to Jesus. (Read that again. Harsh? It should be. Again, no "secret Christians." - I'm reminded of the great commission in Matthew 28.)
Invite some neighbors over for a BBQ. Is it always just people from church? It's a good place to practice, but don't stop there. If God presents an opportunity, take it. (And I would add - pray for the opportunity! Now that's a scary step of faith!)
STRETCH - this fall, we're going to get out of our comfort zone.
Worship, Fellowship, Growth in Jesus, Service, Outreach
* LIGHT your world with THE FLAVOR OF CHRIST.
They should smell the aroma of Jesus when they're around you. Their life should be better by being around you.
We need to help people know what we are FOR, not just what we are AGAINST. (That the world would see your good deeds.)
- 1.2-1.5 more abortions this year
- The homosexual agenda coming like a locomotive
- Public schools not only work hard to keep God out, but seems to take pride in mocking God.
If we simply work on what we are against, we are fighting a losing battle (the world will become a darker and darker place, this is a foregone conclusion). But if we are working on what we are for, we slow the decay of the world. We are for making the world a better place. We're for caring for people. Jesus said "be as shrewd as serpents but as harmless as doves.". The world doesn't seek to know what you know when you're being a whiney Christian, but when you're loving like Jesus.
Darkness changes what you think is reality. (Think of a child in a bedroom late at night without a nightlight.) The world around us is in darkness. It's not our job to scream at them in the dark but instead to help them see reality.
2 Corinthians 2:15 - "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."
When people see that you respond differently to the difficulties in life, they will want to know more about why and will be drawn to you.
Lots of fear around us, but we have the hope of Christ. When others see that, they will want the hope you have.
* It's to SHINE THE ATTENTION ON THE FATHER, NOT US.
A wedding - procession, cake, gifts, the day - but it's really all about the bride.
The same way about us - if they only point to you, you your building, your amazing music - then we've failed. Not "what a get Christian he is" but "what a great Christ he knows."
Are we influencing our spouse, our children, our parents, our neighbors - do they see Jesus, or just someone who doesn't have anything they need or want and happen to also be a Christian?
- A Thousand Tongues
- Jesus Messiah
- How Deep the Father's Love for Us
- You Are My King
- Shout to the North
- Glory of the King