Salt and Light

Sea salt wooden spoon on brown wooden background.

February 5, 2017

Matthew 5:13-20

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Needless to say, the news of the past couple of weeks has been all over the place. At times, it has been riveting, in the sense that you don’t want to turn away for you may miss something. Other times, it has been detestable, and you cannot turn off the television or change the channel fast enough. Of course, what some of us find riveting others may find detestable and vice versa.

In light of everything that happens in Washington D.C., in our country, and around the world, we have been presented with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This just happens to be part of our lectionary cycle that we are in, Year A, the year of Matthew. Regardless of where our opinions lie on the current conditions of politics in America, Jesus brings us truth in the gospel of Matthew. It is a little hard to argue with Jesus. Jesus speaks of a righteousness that seems hard to come by these days, at least something other than a self-prescribed righteousness.

In Jesus’ righteousness, we are promised righteousness ourselves, and this is what makes the kingdom of heaven, here on earth, possible. In that righteousness, we are blessed. We are blessed to be welcomed into the kingdom of God, and we are blessed to be able to say that we are doing our best to follow the example that Jesus has set.

When we live in brokenness, it feels like everything is falling apart around us. In times like these, it is important to remember that we are blessed by Jesus. And this can make all the difference. While we received his message of blessing last week in the beatitudes, Jesus continues that into this week’s lesson. We can hear his words as they are directed to the disciples.  Words that call us into being here and now.

Jesus is not setting the stage for what the disciples are going to be in the future, or perhaps for what they should strive for. He is stating who they are and what difference they can make in the world that they are called to lead. We too can hear Jesus’ words as ones that speak to us in this time and place. “You are the salt of the earth.” It is with salt that we are able to enhance and alter the taste of food. There is a power in salt that brings the goodness out in things and brings them to life. Salt can also be used as a preservative to keep things fresh longer. Salt also stimulates thirst. Imagine being the salt that brings someone to the baptismal waters of Christ.

“You are the light of the world.” It is in the brokenness of our world where it appears dark. That light brings a sign of hope and perseverance. There is an energy around light that enlivens. Living in Michigan, we know the power of the sun. This past week has been awesome as we have been able to increase our natural vitamin D absorption by 1000%, as the sun has actually been out! The sun does not only make us feel better, it helps things grow! If it were not for the sunlight, our plants would not be able thrive. Imagine being the light that helps someone grow in their faith.

Herein, is where the problem resides. Do you know that you are the salt of the earth? Do you know that you are the light of the world? As Christians, we can all too often get caught up in the business of doing church. We want to make sure that we have everything in order. We want to make sure everything goes smoothly in worship. Like the Pharisees and Scribes, we tend to focus more on observing tradition, our public displays of piety, and our adherence to the letter of the law. This is where they find their righteousness. Jesus, on the other hand, focuses on his relationship with God, and in this lies the foundation for his relationship with his followers. Jesus lets them and us know who we are as people of God. A people that are blessed. In that blessing, we are informed that we are the salt and the light of the world. We don’t want to lose our saltiness, for if we do, then we bring nothing to the table of change. We do not want to let our light be hidden, for in that light is the love of Christ that wants to shine in the darkness.

We have witnessed people these past couple of weeks that are truly showing what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The millions of women that marched around the world during the women’s march were being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They were not holding back and were not afraid to let their voices be heard. There was a pro-life march and rally in Washington D.C. last weekend where people were being salt and light. The protests we witnessed in airports last weekend over the refugee and immigrant ban was a witness to people being the salt and light of the world. I am not saying you have to agree with all of these. What I am saying is that this is what Jesus is calling us to when he tells us we are salt and light.

We are to be vocal and step up for what we believe in. As Christians, we are to follow the words and actions of Jesus. This should be the foundation of our own actions as we reach out to make a difference and initiate change. We can do so by supporting causes that are near and dear to us and letting our voices as Christians be heard.

Jesus was born into this world to bring light to the darkness. Through his death on the cross we are reminded of God’s grace that brings us salvation. Remember as you go out this week that you are loved, you are blessed, and that you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Amen.


By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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