Being salt and lightBottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” These are words attributed to Jesus in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
These words come right after the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are those who mourn
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the pure in heart
Blessed are the peacemakers
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake
Blessed are you when people utter all kinds of evil against you falsely
Great crowds followed Jesus and when he saw them he walked up the mountain and began to speak.
“You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.”
What do you think Jesus meant?
He didn’t say you have the potential to be the salt of the earth, or with a little more training you could become the light for the world. Ha!
No, Jesus said this as if it were already true! Almost as if it were as obvious as the nose on your face. “You are the salt of the earth.” You are the light of the world.”
There was no group that was singled out, no certain requirements needed, just a wide assortment of people who’d gotten up on an ordinary morning, and made their way to the hillside that day to hear this man Jesus whom they’d heard so much about. They got up, just as we did on this ordinary morning, deciding, for one reason or another, to make our way here to The Met Church.
And here you are, listening to the same words as those on the hillside; “You are the light of the world.” “You are the salt of the earth.” Is it true? Could it be?
Maybe we came here this morning because we had a job to do; usher, communion, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School. Maybe you came because you’re meeting a friend and then going out for brunch or maybe because you believe in the mission and vision of this faith community and are here to support it. For whatever reason you came here this morning, I have a hunch, like those Galileans on the hillside that you didn’t come here convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are the light for the world, and in this moment right now, you are the salt of the earth.
Maybe you feel just the opposite. That like this weather this weekend you’re more aware of the clouds in your life than the sunshine, maybe you’re feeling tired and more aware of the blandness and routine of your days than your salty zest. But this morning, I want you to hear Jesus calling you the light, and that you are already the salt. You have within you, and around you, all that you need. Do you believe it?
Just like those on the hillside, no one is being singled out; we are all hearing the same message from him. Regardless of your past, regardless of your future plans, “You are the light of the world,” Jesus tells all of us. “You are the salt of the earth.”
And when he looks your way saying those words, you may look over your shoulder to see who he’s talking to. But his eye hasn’t left your face. The voice comes again, “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” And you clutch your pearls and say, “Me?” “Right now?”
We all know people who fit these two descriptors of salt and light. When they enter a room, it lights up. When you see a letter or a card from them, you smile, a ray of sunshine is about to make your day. When you need a true friend, someone who won’t let you down, you look for someone who is salt of the earth; someone who is solid, and humble and trustworthy. They may not be hot, exotic and spicy, making the food burn our lips, or not the models airbrushed in ads, but people who can be counted on. People worth knowing.
Now, this doesn’t make salt plain or ordinary; salt has remarkable characteristics. It changes ordinary food into something tasty. When the seemingly small, single teaspoon of salt is forgotten in a recipe, everyone who tastes it knows immediately. Salt changes things. It makes them so much better!
And for those listening to Jesus on the hillside, salt was a miracle preservative. It was salt that allowed meats or fish or other foods to last. Salt kept families from starving. Salt changes things; it makes life so much better. Salt is a healer too. During these winter months, don’t forget that gargling with warm salt water is recommended for sore throats or colds.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Healing, preserving, enhancing. Jesus is telling us this morning that you can make lives so much better.
Jesus wants us to know our true identity from God’s perspective, not because of anything we’ve done, but because we’re made in God’s image. I like what Rev. Joy Fallen says, “By being children of God, loved unconditionally, we’re imbued with these qualities: salt and light, able to bring deeper life to lives we touch.”
Why don’t we act like the beautiful light we are? To ignore our own radiance is as silly as covering a lamp with a bushel. God longs for us to know who we really are, both for our good and for the good of the world. “You are the salt of the earth.” You are the light of the world.” Can we grasp that?
A powerful quote from Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Sometimes we hide ourselves under a bushel, who we really are, or at least some part of ourselves. There are many reasons we may lose sight of who we are in God’s sight. In God’s eyes we are born beloved, valued “salt of the earth,” shining light for the world, treasured and precious and fabulous in God’s sight.
To be light, shining in the darkness, to be salt to a world that’s hurting and afraid, we need to come together as a beloved community. Together, our light grows, giving hope to those who’ve forgotten the true reality that you, too, are the light of the world.
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