Light of The World / Salt of The Earth
What Type of Salt Are You?
"13You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16.
In times of antiquity many stored their salt in a designated hole, often within their homes. Over time the salt that touched the earth became unusable due to moisture. At that point the family would need to remove the salt that had been damaged and throw it out. However the salt could not be thrown out on their land as that could damage the crops. Instead the salt would be thrown out, as Jesus says, on the streets to be "trampled under foot by men."
This reminds me of the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:37-38, "...The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Have you ever wondered why there are so few willing to teach others the gospel? Do we need to encourage more men to become preachers? Yes and No! Sure, more men need to become ministers of God's power to save but no that is not the real context or problem. The real context is that more disciples of Christ, not just evangelist, need to be willing to work in the fields that are plentiful with lost souls seeking answers.
I come back to this salt analogy that Jesus points us to. When I consider Matthew 5 and 9 here are some things that I believe would be good for all of us to consider.
1) Why don't more disciples do more "work" for Jesus? Perhaps we would like to but we feel like we would be perceived as hypocrites. Maybe our past or current sins hurt our influence with the lost around us. We should remember a part of doing "good works" is keeping ourselves "unspotted from the world" James 1:26-27. It is hard to show the lost the light of Christ when we ourselves are living in the filth and darkness of sin.
2) It would be good for all disciples to ask ourselves a simple question. What kind of salt am I ? Are we adding spiritual flavor for Christ to those around us or are we harming the fields around us that are full of influential lost souls?
In Genesis 18:32 Abraham asked the Lord to spare the land of Sodom and Gomorrah if at least 10 righteous souls could be found. Obviously 10 righteous souls were not found and the Lord destroyed the cities for their wickedness. Something that has always struck me is the fact that "righteous Lot" (2 Peter 2:7) lived within the walls of Sodom. Perhaps if Lot would have focused more on adding righteous flavor to Sodom instead of accepting the culture of the day at least 10 souls would have been found to be righteous. How is your influence? Are you living in such a way that you could influence 10 souls around you to be more righteous? "13You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. "
Vol.XXVI March 16, 2011 No.6
association without adaptation
The days leading up to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus must have been terribly confusing for His apostles. On the first day of that week, they had walked among the throngs of people who were parading before and after the Lord, paving the road with branches from trees, and openly welcoming Him to Jerusalem as their long-awaited Messiah. The twelve watched as He drove out of the temple those who were engaged in commercial enterprise; stood in wonder as He gave sight to the blind and strength of limb to the lame; listened to the cries of the children echoing the words of their parents - “Hosana to the Son of David!”. They were present as the Pharisees and Sadducees and chief priests and elders confronted Him with questions and challenges and it must have thrilled them and inflamed their own Messianic hopes as He refuted every effort to undermine His teaching and power. They saw the fig tree dried up by its roots only one day after their Master had cursed it. And they must have felt the rising tide of expectation in the city as the multitudes embraced Jesus as their King. But, at the same time, Jesus warned them of great tribulation - the very stones of the Temple would be cast down; they would be pursued as objects of hatred and persecution. He told them, at least twice in these few short days, that He was about to die. Furthermore, He predicted that they would forsake Him, and one of them would betray Him. How could they process all of these conflicting scenes? It’s no wonder that Peter could be so bold in his affirmation of loyalty - “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble!” Even when Jesus specified the details of his denial, Peter resolutely avowed, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” I find it impressive that, in the garden of betrayal, surrounded by an armed crowd, Peter was the one who drew his sword and attacked those who threatened his Master. Clearly, at that moment, he was willing to die in faithfulness to his word.
But Jesus told him to put his sword away. And He allowed Himself to be taken without resistance. And Peter’s world - his expectations and dreams and hopes and illusions - came crashing down. Dejected, he ran. Confused, he turned back and followed. He secreted his way into the courtyard of the high priest to see what would happen to Jesus. He found himself surrounded, not by the hopeful crowds, but by the murderous opposition. In a dim courtyard, illuminated by a small fire, a couple of servant girls caught a glimpse of his face in the flickering light. “Weren’t you with Him?” Panic. “No.” Someone else, “But I saw you with Him. I saw you in the garden!” “I don’t know the man.” Others began to look more closely - “You’re one of His disciples - you’re a Galilean; your speech betrays you.” Cursing, swearing, sweating in the cold, fearing for his life, Peter’s great assurance is gone. “I don’t know what you’re saying!” A rooster crows in the distance. Jesus, across the courtyard, turns and looks as His friend. Peter remembers. But the denial is done.
God’s record is replete with anecdotal warnings about the power of influence. Lot moved toward Sodom where the men were “exceedingly wicked and sinful” (Gen.13; 19). He saw some of his daughters die at Sodom; lost his wife in her disobedience; in his weakness fathered children by the two immoral daughters that survived. Would his life have been different in the absence of Sodom’s influence? A generation of people lost their lives in the wilderness because of the influence of ten men who didn’t trust in God’s power to deliver Canaan into the hands of Israel (Num.13). Solomon dishonored the throne of Israel in allowing his foreign wives to turn his heart away from God (I Kings 11). Herod beheaded John the Baptist due to the influence of a woman he loved, a woman after which he lusted, and the godless influence of a room full of party guests (Mt.14). Pilate condemned the Son of God to crucifixion because he feared the angry cries of a crowd, in spite of the military might which he commanded (Mt.27:24). Peter was strong until surrounded by the enemy in the absence of the Lord.
Influence is a double-edged sword. As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to exercise it (Mt.5:13f; I Pet.2:9f). One of the great difficulties of loyal service is to stand up for God when we are almost always in the minority, and even more so when there are clearly painful consequences to follow. But it is our task, and we must be conscious of that obligation in our homes, at our jobs, in our schools, in our social circumstances. In I Pet.4 we are encouraged to brace ourselves as we “do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (v.4) and then “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (v.12f). Stand up, and you will certainly stand out. But the other side of the sword is the danger of allowing those we are trying to influence to hold sway over us. God told the Israelites, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Ex.23:2). Proverbs is full of warnings about the danger of ungodly influences. Paul echoes the sentiment regarding doctrinal dangers - “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits” (I Cor.15:33). Over and over we stand warned about allowing the world to dictate our convictions, our standards, our affections. But we can never be about the business of saving souls unless we are existing in the world and among those given to rebellion. Perhaps we could cloister ourselves from society with its wicked influences and find it easier to remain unmoved. But how would we ever move anyone else? Therein lies the dilemma.
So what’s the solution? Association without adaptation. We can be in the world without being of the world (Jn.17:14f). We can interact with people in our daily course of living without embracing the world’s ungodliness. But we must make sure of our commitment. We must be singularly devoted to Christ. If I am not dedicated, I will be drawn away. I must sacrifice myself (Rom.12:1f; Mt.16:24). No thing nor no one must ever take precedence over that determination. And, I must refrain from intimacy with anyone or anything that would lead me away from God. Contact may be unavoidable. But intimacy is my choice. Why would I give myself in thought, in affection, in priority, in body to someone who is not concerned for my soul? Perhaps that’s the practical key. Influence others because you care for their soul. But don’t be swayed by those who do not care for yours.