Scriptures: Matthew 5:9, Ezekiel 13:10-12, Jeremiah 6:12-14, Colossians 1:20, Matthew 5:10-12, 2 Timothy 3:12, Matthew 5:11-12
It is interesting to me that after God gave the ten commandments in the Old Covenant, the people distanced themselves from the presence of God. People were frightened of his presence. Then Moses told them that the lightening and thunder and dark smoke was God putting fear into them (Exo 20:18-21).
Exodus 20:20 Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
Exodus 20:21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Moses said don't be afraid of God, but then said God had come to frighten them so they would not sin. The truth is the fear of God did not stop people from sinning. It didn't even stop Moses from sinning. Moses was constantly battling anger and eventually struck the rock to which he was to speak (Num 20:10-12). Life in the Old Covenant was to work out of commandments and a dark cloud of fear.
Jesus gave us a totally different revelation in the New Covenant. Life is to work out from beautiful attitudes and love - not commandments and fear. We have spent a lot of time on the eight beautiful attitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. This is because the eight beautiful attitudes carry the importance in the New Covenant that the ten commandments carried in the Old Covenant.
Thick darkness and the horrible taste of fear are not how Jesus portrays God in the New Covenant. Neither is that how you and I are to project God and his kingdom to others. We are to project a God of love desiring to preserve us as salt does meat, not destroy us. Instead of projecting a God of thick darkness and thunder and lightening, we are to project a God of attractive warm light. Here is what Jesus said immediately after he gave his beautiful attitudes.
Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
We are to show the earth God and his kingdom as preserving salt. So, don't lose your saltiness. We are to show the world God and his kingdom as directing light. So, don't hide your light.
The earth and the world are to see God and his people as salt and light. The Greek meanings are interesting forearth and world. The Greek word for earth is ge (Strong's #1093) and pronounced ghay. It means (1) the ground, the earth as a standing place; (2) the main land as opposed to the sea or water; (3) a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region It is also translated as land, ground, country, and once as world. Its greatest expanse in meaning is land separated from water. It doesn't mean this globe called earth that we live upon. (This word becomes very important when studying the book of Revelation.) We can best understand ge by looking at a few other verses where it is used. We only have time for a few (there are 251 uses), but we will get the idea.
Matthew 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land (ge) of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (first use in N.T.)
Matthew 9:31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country (ge).
(NIV) Matthew 9:31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region (ge).
Before we can affect the entire earth, we must affect our regions and cities. It's first Jerusalem, then Judah, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth (Act 2:8). Our job is to affect our region as salt.
Let's talk a little about the use of salt in the day this was first spoken. Jesus didn't mean we are to be literal salt. He likened us to salt. There were three primary uses of salt which show us three primary ways we touch the lives of people.
The number one use for salt was as a preservative. As today, flies and insects came by swarms when an animal was butchered. There was no refrigeration. The only way to preserve meat was to rub salt into the flesh. The salt was not sprinkled. Rather, salt was rubbed into the flesh. This is a vigorous action causing the salt to become a part of the flesh. The flesh actually absorbs the salt. There are people in our ge (land, region) that we are rubbed into. We are around them constantly. We have become a part of their lives. We are interacting into their lives. It's not so much that we are to go and find people to rub into. We already have them. The Lord has strategically placed each of us against the lives of people he expects us to penetrate just as the person rubbing in the salt placed the salt exactly where he wanted the salt to penetrate. This is what the Lord did with the twelve disciples. He was around them constantly. He rubbed himself into them. He got into their flesh. He brought a preservation to their lives, souls, and spirits.
While I am on this thought, what is it that makes us salt? What is it that would make us into the likeness of salt? Is it because we prayed a sinner's prayer or go to church or give our tithes? A lot of people do that, but never salt lives. I know people who do "church" things, but are repulsive and obnoxious. Then what makes us salt? The only possible answer is the beautiful attitudes. Our attitudes make us salty. The attitudes are the only things that Jesus had thus far taught. Imagine going through life with those eight beautiful attitudes constantly working out from our lives. The effects upon people would be phenomenal. A person with a gentle poor spirit not full of themselves, who mourns when they do wrong, who properly approaches every situation with meekness, who hungers and thirsts for God, who is merciful, who has a pure heart, who makes peace, and who does not allow persecution to stop him or her - that person has something that will affect lives. People desire to be around a person like that. Simply saying we are a Christian does not make us salt. The truth is that we are repulsive when our attitudes stink. The Christians I enjoy being around, and allow to touch my life, are people with beautiful attitudes.
You and I affect every person with whom we rub against. That is why it is so important that we rub against the unchurched. So, against whom is Jesus rubbing you? Whose life is it that he wants to rub in your salt? Who is it that you can help preserve?
One more thought on the preservation aspect of salt before we look at another use of salt. Isn't it amazing that we are here to be salt which is to preserve the earth (ge), but so much theology today says we are to escape from the earth because God's intentions are to destroy the earth that we are to give our lives to preserve? Jesus taught preservation.
Another use for salt is as a condiment, a spice. The bland and tasteless is made savory with just a dash or sprinkle of salt. This is not only meat. Salt adds flavor to everything. Christianity should bring flavor and spice to life. There are people to whom we get to sprinkle or give just a dash of our lives - our salt. We don't get to rub into their lives, but we do get to sprinkle. When we get around these people, we can't be looking down our noses with a 'holier than you' attitude. Enjoy life before them. Let them see joy and peace and righteousness. Christianity is not to be bland and tasteless. It is to be delicious and fulfilling. Jesus was not bland! He sprinkled as many as he could. He gave multitudes a taste of his kingdom.
Whom do you sprinkle? I sprinkle everyone I can - bank tellers, convenience store workers, everyone I come into contact. I give them a smile, an encouraging word, and if possible, an invitation to come hear me preach. I do this every day. For example, the print shop delivered our Christmas invitation cards. I greeted, smiled, and invited the person to come to church. It's so easy to sprinkle.
Another aspect about salt is that salt makes us thirsty. Sometimes I get to be around people that I make thirst for God. Usually these are already Christ followers or believers Jesus made people thirst for God. It did not matter if the person was a Pharisee like Nicodemus or a woman at a well. There are people that we can cause to be thirsty for a drink of living water. Amazingly, I make some preachers thirsty and some preachers make me thirsty. I tell people about our praise and worship. I tell them about what we are learning. I tell them about Life Gate and people become thirsty.
We all have those three types of people in our lives - those we rub into, those we sprinkle, and those we make thirsty. What I desire we see is they are all in our ge (earth). How salty are we?
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
If salt remains in the container, what good is it? Can a person or a church lose its saltiness? Yes, in that the salt is not used. The salt is there. It's available, but if we are not going to use it, at least stop some weeds from growing.
The fact is that if we will not be a salty church, we are good for nothing. Ouch! That hurt I know, but isn't that what Jesus is saying? For example, what happened to the great churches that we read about in the Bible that so affected their ge (earth)? What happened to the church at Ephesus, and Corinth, and Thessalonica? What happened to the seven churches listed in the Revelation that were in Asia (Rev 1:11)? What happened to the great cathedrals in England that are now boarded up and closed? The answer is they lost their saltiness. The future of Life Gate is determined by our ability to remain salty.
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
The truth is clear. If believers are the light of the world, then the world is in darkness without believers. The only light for the world is the church. If a church is not a light, it is not a church.
The first light example that Jesus gave was a city on a hill. Jesus said that city "cannot be hidden." He is speaking about his people or his church. It is impossible to hide a true Christian and a true church. If we are a real church, we cannot be hid. Those listening to Jesus on the hillside that day did not think of light associated with electricity as do we. The image is the light that comes from a flame. On the day of Pentecost, a flame came into that house of Acts 2. That flame divided and set upon each one present. They became flames of light. As they went throughout their journey of life, they found others to rub against and catch on fire. Eventually, this flame of light touched the whole world. One day it touched me and caught me on fire and one day it touched you and caught you on fire and today we are touching lives and catching them on fire. We bring light and fire every place we go.
That fire cannot be hid. I don't know all that is ahead for us, but I do know that our church is to become more and more visible. We did well this past year. I pray that this next year we will be even more visible.
The Greek word for world is kosmos (Strong's #2889). It means the arrangement, order, government, the whole circle of things. The word itself has a universal sound which is good. The universe is set into its circle or cycle or orbit. For example, our earth (literal) rotates around the sun (light). That is basically the thought. Jesus wants everything to rotate around his kingdom. He desires his kingdom to light the world.
Matthew 5:15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
You and I have been placed on a stand. We are not under a bowl. Lights are strategically placed where they will be the most beneficial. The Lord has strategically placed each of us where we will be the most beneficial. The Lord has not put you or me or this church under a bowl. We are not to hide. We are to shine and be a flame everyplace we go. We are placed on a stand to affect everyone around us.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
According to that verse, how do we shine our lights? Jesus said it's by our good deeds. It's by what we do, not what we say. It's by how we orchestrate our own lives. People notice how we live. They look at our lives. They see what we do for people, but also watch our families, our children, how we pay our bills, how we respond to people, if we gossip and slander, etc. The truth is people do this if we want them to do this or not. We either bring praise to our father in heaven or praise to the devil.
We are salt to the earth. We preserve the earth. We flavor life. We make people thirsty for God. We are the light of the world. We bring light into darkness. We are strategically positioned by the Father. How are we doing?
I want us to covenant together and work together that this year will be a year we shine and salt our earths.