‘Salt’ & ‘Light’ – Do These Define Us?
It is said that we are to be a light on a hill, salt on the earth, to cry out on the rooftops – to sow and reap – to plant and water.
If these are supposed to describe whom we are and what we do, then what is the light that shines out from us? What is it that makes us into salt? What are we supposed to cry from the rooftops? What are we sowing, planning, watering, and reaping?
The answer is simple – yet do not glaze over it as if you have heard it one hundred times before – CHRIST
So Christ is the light, the salt, the message we cry, the seed to sow as well as the water that causes it to grow.
The church likes to teach that it is Christ in us and working through us – but fails to teach that this is not in spite or us; instead it is in partnership with us. Yes, Christ could be and is light, salt, seed and water, without help or input; but He graciously chooses to involve us, in large part to allow us to know better and chose to have a closer relationship with Him.
So what makes us different from a world that does not know or want to acknowledge Christ? The simple answer would be Christ living in us, but what does Christ living in us mean and what does it mean to then be a Christian? A Christian is defined as: “a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ, a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity, exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christ like.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Christian).
It is more than Christ taking up residence in us – it is action – allowing Christ full access to change us, shape us, mold us, prune us, and grow us – most of which can be painful, but always is rewarding when the fruit then is able to grow as the thorns, thistles, and dross is removed from within us. That is not the end, just the beginning because the question of what makes us different now becomes complete – that change within us (caused by Christ) causes a change on the outside.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal 5:18-25)
We change from one to the other, and notice that each of these items on the list is action – an action that starts within the heart. That inward AND outward change is what makes us different from the world because it defines us as ‘Christian’ and only Christ can make that change. Then the world should look at Christians, SEE the difference, and see the light, taste the salt, hear the cries and be reaped… But the world does not SEE the difference, does not see the purest of light, does not taste the saltiness, and instead of cries – there is silence.
The Question now, is WHY?
There are many answers or potential answers to this question – and there are many ways I would love to answer it. But in order to not belabor the point:
The church has slowly lost its purpose and mission, while at the same time the people have lost focus and become lazy. In order for the church to justify itself and to be able to show those paying the bills how productive it, it has created a way of tracking statistics, just like a business – and just like a business it has come to act and react.
It has become numbers oriented: people in attendance, money collected (tithed), and number of people saved, baptized, sent to the mission’s field, programs, etc. The more people in attendance the more it appears that it is preaching and doing its job well (which is a possible indication, but not the only indication).
The church also became missions oriented and jumped into a race to ‘save’ people, while largely ignoring the need for these ‘saved’ people to be transformed. The cry has become ‘seeker friendly’ services and sermons that do not make the ‘seeker’ uncomfortable, while at the same time does not convict, or point out the need for change in the ‘saved’ person’s life.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” (Luke 8:5-8).
To fully understand of grasp where we are now, we must first glance back to Mount Sinai where we find God interacting with the Israelites after they were brought out of Egypt (Exodus 19).
God wanted to establish a relationship with them, but they wanted Moses to act as a mediator between them and God. This lead to the priestly line of Aaron where they acted as mediator, and a separation between them & God through the veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. This veil was torn from top to bottom when Christ died on the Cross (Matt 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). And then Christ was established as our final and ultimate Mediator (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, Heb 9:15, Heb 12:24).
Yet somewhere between Christ’s resurrection and where we are today in history we have to be careful to keep from acting as if our pastors are the mediator as the priestly line of Aaron was.
If we maintain our relationship with God as it should be with Christ as our Mediator, we should consider ourselves to be ambassadors, as Paul calls us in Eph 6:20. An Ambassador is defined as: “A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative, diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty. An authorized messenger or representative.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ambassador).
Some of the things to remember about an ambassador are: When an ambassador is present, they represent the nation they are sent by – they are both a voice for and a picture of their nation – in fact it could be said that the ‘light’ of their nation shines through them. To be effective, they need to be fluent in knowledge, history, and language of their country (and the one they are residing in) and have an understanding of where their nation has been and where it intends to go. And a good ambassador needs to understand how the decisions and actions of their country or the country they are in will affect others. They also have the right and privilege to communicate directly with their nations leader. And most importantly, a person-seeking asylum can present himself or herself before the ambassador to seek direction and protection.
Just imagine a church and a people who are the salt and light that Christ desires to be through them, and when the world sees and tastes the difference, there is a chance that they may seek advice from those who they see the light radiating from on how to seek asylum.