Updated: Aug 1, 2022
Salt + Light
If you know me and have spent any length of time with me, you would know that I am an avid follower of sport, and team sports, in particular.
No! I don’t have a room in the house with all kinds of sports memorabilia and replica shirts of my favourite teams (maybe one day I will)!
This love for sports developed in me during my school days. I was in boarding school for a very long time, right from the time I was 8 years old, all the way up until I completed high school. We had a lot of time on our hands to dabble in all types of sports, soccer, cricket, rugby etc….And it was during matches that I began to appreciate that some individuals among us had skills when we were allowed to express ourselves on the field of play.
Oftentimes, it was during the dull and boring matches that were destined for a stalemate, that someone either came on as a substitute or someone already in the field, changed the trajectory of the outcome of the game in our favour with their exploits. Perhaps that’s where the term ‘gamechanger’ was derived.
Even in the sports world today, there are plenty of game-changers who we read or hear about their exploits on the field of play but that’s not why I am here this morning. I want to talk about the TOV #morethangood gamechanger.
If you open to the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, you find beautiful a description of a mountain garden in a region called Eden (meaning pleasure), with plants, trees, rivers, life… It is God's tov creation. People are in tov relationship with God, and each other. The same picture is what we read about at the end of the Bible in Revelations. In the middle of the story, we are introduced to the gamechanger and his name is Jesus. His story is one of redemption, setting things right (as they should be), the ultimate victory story (tov triumphing over ra)! Because God is tov, more than good, he sends his son Jesus into the mess of the world, he is God’s rescue operation for the world.
Last weeks blog, Peter shared on The Beatitudes, which I believe are the character foundations of how we must practically live as disciples or followers of Jesus. Some scholars go as far as describing them as a ‘code of ethics for the disciples and a standard of conduct for all believers’.
Matthew 5: 13-16 (NLT)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way. Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Jesus uses salt as an analogy/metaphor to describe the people in the crowd because in the ancient culture, salt had many purposes for which it was good for: -
· PRECIOUS: The Romans believed that other than the sun, there was nothing more valuable than salt. The Romans said “There is nothing more useful than sun and salt” (Latin: Nil utilius sole et sale). In fact, it is said that Roman soldiers were often paid in salt, which is where the phrase “He’s not worth his salt” was coined.
Salt was also considered a mark of friendship. When two people shared salt, then they were more likely to look out for each other. Therefore, when Jesus called the disciples/followers salt of the earth, naturally these aspects would have come to mind. Salt was extremely valuable and they would have known that they too were valuable in Jesus’ eyes. We too are valuable to God’s kingdom should we choose to become a part of it.
· PRESERVATIVE: Perhaps one of the most important functions that salt had in the ancient times was to be used as a preservative, especially to meats. In a time when there was no refrigeration, salt was the best way to preserve food from decay. Salt also has medicinal properties as it can be used to heal cuts or bruises and prevent germs from entering our bodies, it is an ANTISEPTIC. It prevents things from going ‘bad’.
So then salt preserves from corruption. If the Christian is to be the salt of the earth, he must have a certain antiseptic influence on life. We should counteract the moral decay in society.
We all know that there are certain people in whose company it is easy to be good, and that also there are certain people in whose company it is easy for standards to be relaxed. There are certain people in whose presence a soiled story would be readily told, and there are other people to whom no one would dream of telling such a tale.
The Christian must be the cleansing antiseptic in any society in which he happens to be; he must be the person who by his presence defeats corruption and makes it easier for others to be good (tov).
· FLAVOUR ENHANCER: The greatest and most common quality of salt is that it enhances the flavour of food when added to it. Food without salt is sadly bland and not very enjoyable. Christianity is to live what salt is to food. As followers of Jesus, we are called to bring flavour to life.
What ‘flavour’ are you bringing to the lives of those around you?
Is it a TOV flavour?
50 Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavour, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other.
Many Christians blend into the world around them and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. Jesus says that if we lose our DISTINCTIVE SALTINESS, we become worthless. We are called to preserve the good in the world and bring a new flavour to life, we must STAND OUT! It requires careful planning, willing sacrifice and unswerving commitment to Christ’s Kingdom. But if we fail to be “salty”, we fail to represent Christ in the world.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not wark in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world
This is perhaps the greatest compliment that Jesus paying to us as his followers, in that he is calling us to be what he himself claimed to be.
With great power comes great responsibility! During that time, Jerusalem was often referred to as “a light to the Gentiles” and a famous rabbi often called “a lamp of Israel”. In their minds, the Jews believed that no man kindled their own light and that indeed Jerusalem was a light to the Gentiles but “God lit Israel’s lamp”. The light with which the nation shone was borrowed light and therefore it must be the same with the Christian. Jesus is therefore not asking us to produce our own light but we must shine the reflection of his light.
As “light” we are called to illuminate or make visible. Our lives are to be an on-going witness to the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. When we worship God with pure hearts, when we love others as ourselves, and when we do good without growing weary, we are lights shining. Dr Michael Youssef
The Aramaic word for “light” (noohra) is often used as a metaphor for teachings that bring enlightenment and revelation into the hearts of men. Lights can also represent the presence of God (“the light of his countenance”). Jesus is the light of God within us. TPT Footnote on Mat 5:16
How do we practically become the light of the world?
· OUR LIGHT IS MEANT TO BE SEEN: We obviously can’t do that when Eskom load sheds our suburbs…..hahahaha.
By placing the lamp on a stand provided light for the whole house. The same cannot be said when you place the lamp under a basket. Christianity is something which is meant to be seen.
Someone said, “there can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.”
Our light should not be visible only in the Church. It should shine in all the dark places in our lives, in our schools, our neighbourhoods, our workplaces, shopping malls.
Light reveals truth and exposes darkness!
· OUR LIGHT IS A GUIDE: A light is something to make clear the way. Think about driving down a street with no lights. As followers of Christ, we need to be bold enough to take a stand to do the right thing, and take the lead so that others may follow. The world is desperately in need of guiding lights right now.
GOOD DEEDS must not only be good; they must also be attractive! Our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God. The Greek word for good in this text is ‘kalos’ which means that a thing is not only good but that it is also winsome, beautiful and attractive. Therefore, let your light so shine before men.
Ephesians 5: 8-14
8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
- Themba Moyo