[rest·awe] youth talk – Salt & Light

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Talk – Salt and Light

Salt and Light in a Dark and Flavourless World

Over these past few weeks I have been looking at Matthew 5:13-16, which is about what it means to be salt and light. This passage of the Bible is the second part of Jesus’ first sermon, called the Sermon on the Mount. Although it may be confusing at first, these verses are simply about what our lives as Christians should look like to non-Christians. We are going to be breaking down Jesus’ metaphor and talking about what it would look like to take his words and live them out today.

Although Jesus’ choice of words may seem odd, I can assure you there is no need to research how to ingest large quantities of salt in order to become a seasoning or how to inject glow stick liquid into your bloodstream to be a light to the world. For the original audience and for us today, the analogy shouldn’t be taken literally.

Salt to Season

In Bible times salt was a necessity of life and served multiple functions including preserving, and acting as a form of exchange. However, we are going to talk about its most familiar use, as a seasoning. In this passage Jesus is calling us to be salt, in terms of flavouring the earth with our actions. In the same way that salt can alter the flavour of food, for those of us who are Christians, we should be enhancing the world. When we live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will inevitably enhance the world around us. It is not something negative that comes as a burden, but rather, is something positive that makes the world a better place, like salt which has a positive influence on food.

Matthew isn’t the only area of the Bible where this metaphor is used. In Colossians 4:6 it says, “let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Paul, the writer of Colossians was referring to this verse in his letter.

Basically, like salt which has a positive effect on food, we who are Christians should have a positive effect on the world.

If we go back to Matthew, the following verses elaborate on the ineffectiveness of salt when it has no flavour. For example, if we lost our flavour, what good are we other than to be ‘thrown out and trampled underfoot.’  What is our purpose in the world without flavour? If it is possible to lose our flavour, then it’s no secret that there will be temptations and trials in our lives which could make us less flavourful.

Seasoning the world today is different for everyone. We should be striving to live Godly lives, as that is our unique flavour as Christians. When we face challenges, it’s important that we don’t lose our flavour. When we stay salty, our Christian flavour can inspire the people around us to be more Christ like, as we all ought.

Light to the World

In the second half of the verses Jesus calls us to be a light of the world. It’s important to note that in the Bible, light was not nearly as accessible as it is today. For example, when Jesus preached this message, it says “He went up on a mountainside and sat down […] and he began to teach them.”. His sermon spanned over the next two chapters of Matthew, could you imagine the frustration of the crowds if it got dark and people could no longer see him? It may sound silly, but it wasn’t a problem that could have been easily fixed. They couldn’t have just whipped out a spotlight and shone it on his face. It’s easy to take for granted the availability of light today.

In the context that Matthew was written, they only had oil burners that were basically candles in clay pots, that could be refilled easily. Because of its high value the light was never hidden or left behind. We might leave a light on in our house, or turn our lights on and close our door. For the first century hearer, that was an unthinkable waste. The light was to be treasured and never concealed or hidden.

In verse 16 it says, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in Heaven.” We live in a world corrupt with sin and darkness. In Psalm 118:27 it says, “the Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us”.  God has shown us amazing mercy and grace in sending Jesus to die for us. And so our motivation for performing good works and deeds isn’t for ourselves or for the approval of others, but to glorify God. To do these works seeking our own attention is almost as useless as not doing them at all. We should be living and acting to glorify him and so that others see him in us.

Simply, to apply these verses from Matthew involves:

Existing in a Godly manner, to be salt and doing good works for Gods glory, in order to be a light.

Reflect on how well you are going at doing these in your own life.

What does being salt look like in your own life? How could you be saltier?

What does it look like to be a light of the world and how can you improve on this?

Written by Kaitlin Godsell

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