SCRIPTURE FOR THIS SUNDAY: Matthew 5: 13-20                                                                                                                           (I’ll be using The New International Version (NIV) translation.)

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Bob’s Reflections:

            Normally, when someone asks “who” someone else is, we usually respond with a label corresponding to something they do. It’s a functional description of who someone else is. For instance, we might say, “Oh, that’s Becky’s brother,” or “He’s the guy who always wears that red hat and fixes my car.” You get the idea. We identify “who” someone is by what they do, or some role they have in life that we can relate to.

            But we know that someone’s true identity – who they really are – is found in God, our Creator. Just like ours is! And our true identity starts the same for all of us … we are all children of God.  Created by … and identified by … God as one of God’s own. That’s as true for me as it is for you as it is for all of us.

So, when Jesus meets with the crowd on the side of the mountain that day, they don’t know “who” they are. They’ve been told by others who they are, but that’s just a bunch of labels that have been made up to describe them by those who don’t like them. You see, this is what we do. Instead of recognizing everyone as a child of God first, we usually reserve that for those we like, and tell others that they’re things like unclean, unworthy and unlovable. But that’s not God’s truth. As Jesus tells those sitting around Him on the hillside, they are all blessed. And not only that, as He tells them in this week’s text, they are salt and light to the world.

That must’ve come as some shock to those hearing this from Jesus. The ones that were intentionally left out of the “people of God” group by the self-labeled “people of God,” are now the ones most blessed and the ones who have a role to play for God in this world. Now that’s a quick turnaround!

Last Sunday, Jesus told the crowd who they are (blessed children of God). This week, Jesus tells them “what” they are. You can only imagine the things they have been called by those of the religious establishment of their day. But Jesus gives them 2 new labels. Labels that are true to their real identity, not someone else’s label, but a real calling from God.

First, Jesus tells them they are the “salt of the earth.” Then, he tells them they are the “light of the world.” For sure, the folks in the crowd that day have never heard anything like this. Not only are they NOT unclean, unworthy and unlovable, indeed, they are important to God, even loved by God, and they, like us all, have an important role to play for God in this world today.

This Sunday, we’ll talk more about what salt and light really mean when Jesus tells us that’s what we are. My first thought about being salt this week reminded me of popcorn and French Fries. Both are very enjoyable food selections. But, without salt, they really aren’t that great. Kind of bland, dull and tasteless really. But … with salt … now things get good! Put just a little salt on either one, and they become delicacies. Irresistible even.

Why would Jesus call us “salt of the world?” How do we make something that’s bland and dull into a delicious delicacy?

Then, Jesus follow that up by telling the crowd they are the “light of the world.” There’s already so much darkness in the lives of these folks gathered around him, one must wonder how (and why) these people are light to the world. Again, how can folks that are labeled as unclean, unworthy and unlovable become the “light of the world?” Why would Jesus call us that? How do we bring a light of any kind into a world that’s filled with darkness and shadows?

It’s a new day! Jesus says, here is “what” you are now. You are salt. And, you are light. So, how do we get to the work of being those things in the world today? What would that look like?  

We’ll talk about things like that this Sunday at Vine Street, both in our 9:00am Moring Village, and our 10:00am Worship Service. I hope you can join us!

Have a blessed week and pray for God’s will to be done on Earth, just like it is in Heaven, 

Pastor Bob <><