When Jesus was talking to all the people on the mountain he called the people two things. Can we remember what they were?
Salt of the earth & light of the world
What curious things to call people. I wonder what he meant?
A bowl of rock salt is shown around.
When we go to the shops we find 2 types of salt: rock salt comes from mines under the ground and sea salt comes from evaporating sea water until salt crystals remain. Rock salt was considered better quality and was more expensive. It was literally the salt of the earth. So, if Jesus was calling people salt of the earth he was underlining that they were the precious item….but I wonder what he was saying about the type of people that they are with that name? As we look at this example of salt, is this an image that we can easily relate to?
What can we use salt for?
preserving, healing, flavouring, sacrificial offerings.
So, given the things that salt was used for, Jesus could have been calling his disciples (and us today) all of these things that salt is used for:
- He could have been saying that we have preserving qualities – to keep the gospel message fresh and, in so doing, save us from all the bad choices in life so that one day we can live with him forever in heaven. We can preserves other by sharing what we know with them too.
- Salt was also used with with the things that people took to the temple to offer to God to make them pure and holy. When we come to church we say sorry to God for all the things that we have done wrong and he forgives us so that we are pure and clean and ready to worship him.
- Salt can also be used to heal wounds and to cleanse them. As Jesus’ followers we are called to bring healing into the world through our words and actions and prayers to show others the transforming love of God that can heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds.
- Salt also makes a difference in flavour. When we think of the conversations that we might have in the course of a week, we have an opportunity to bring our Christian perspective, to shine God’s light into situations as we talk about world events, talk to people struggling in their lives, defend human rights, share love, joy and peace. Christians, in how we behave and talk, have an opportunity to make a great difference in the world around us.
Did you notice that? I talked about being light there which is something else that Jesus described his disciples as. Let me show you something so that we can start to understand what he means.
Two helpers are invited up. One holds a piece of card and the other, wearing a blindfold, draws a cross and a heart; then repeats the exercise without the blindfold.
Light is crucial for us to find our way and and to see what we are doing. When we try to communicate without light, just as in our volunteers’ pictures, our message becomes confused.
In Jesus’ times, families would make tiny pots that they filled with olive oil and put a wick in it to light and these would have been dotted around the living space in nooks and crannies to cast the only light that people would have after dark.
If you had gone to the effort of making a little lamp then, of course, it would be silly to hide it so you didn’t get any benefit.
A lamp covered in an ornate scarf is shown.
You may have wondered why I have this beautiful lantern covered up. Well, sometimes we can be shy or wary about letting our light shine into the world. We may come to church and enjoy worship with other believers and that will be a thing of beauty like the scarf that is hiding the light of the candle and people will see that we have something beautiful in our lives but won’t know what it is. If we keep that light to ourselves it doesn’t do much good for the world and the world sees a confused message of what we are about – like in the first drawing. The light is also less effective for guiding us.
We need the salt in our lives rather than just the beauty and sweetness of the gospel to challenge us when we are becoming complacent and taking our place in heaven for granted. Salt reminds us when we have wandered off the path and helps us to get back into it.
Psalm 119 says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”.
The scarf is removed from the lamp.
As we stop blocking Jesus’ light from shining out from us, we are free to find our way through the world with Jesus’ teachings lighting our path. To shine his light and to be able to see where he wants us to be salt in the world.
The losing of our saltiness, as Jesus described, happens when we don’t practice being salt in the world just as when our light is hidden we lose the ability to easily spot where Jesus wants us to be salt and light and people get confused about the message we are giving.
Let us pray that we can bravely be the salt and light that Jesus is calling us to be for his kingdoms sake, knowing that Jesus is with us helping us with every step on the way.