13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
A few thoughts for meditation:
After explaining the character of a true follower of Christ, Jesus used two illustrations to explain the kind of influence disciples should have in the fallen world, salt and light.
Disciples are “salt of the earth”. In the ancient world, salt was used not only to season food but as a preservative. Meat would last longer when treated with salt. But, back then, the salt was impure, often mixed with other compounds. So it was possible for the salt to leech out of the mixture, leaving behind the other compounds. The salt would therefore lose it’s saltiness. It had no preservative value after that happened. And so it was thrown outside. Jesus used this picture to demonstrate the necessity of his disciples to retain their moral virtue and devotion to God. It helps to restrain the evil in the world around them. Jesus warned them that If they compromised with the world in order to get along, then they would lose their preservative influence and become of no use to God and his kingdom.
The second picture is one of light. “You are the light of the world” and a prominent city on a hill”. In this case, we must be unashamed of our public profession of Christ. As God’s people, we bear witness to his gospel with our words and deeds. Faithfulness cannot be lived out in secret. Too often, we are tempted to hide our profession behind the church doors. But that is as foolish as hiding a lamp under a basket. The lamp is lit to provide light. And that is our call as God’s people, to provide light to the community around us. Specifically, the light is our “good works”. Good works are not just a few religious deeds. They are all the ways we live out every sphere of our lives in obedience to Jesus; our personal choices, our marriage, our family, our work, our church, and any other way we interact with others. We live in love and obedience to Jesus in every place and encounter; loving God and loving neighbor. Through that witness of our words and deeds, we push back the darkness and eventually expose to others their need of Christ and how they may come to Him.
With these two pictures of salt and light, Jesus provided both a negative and positive picture of Christian influence in the world. The first refuses to compromise against the bold pressure of the world. The second pushes back with it’s own bold pressure against the world. Both are necessary parts of our faithful witness to Christ. If true disciples embody the beatitudes they will have this kind of influence.
This provides some good grounds to examine ourselves. Do we compromise too easily? Do we try to hide our association with Christ and his church? Or do we live for Jesus humbly yet unashamed? If we find ourselves falling short, then its useful to go back to the beatitudes. Are you truly poor in spirit? Mourning over your sin? Meek before a merciful God? Truly hungering and thirsting for righteousness? When we find ourselves falling short, we must run back to Jesus for forgiveness, help, and strength to serve him well. Usually, we lose our saltiness and light because the world has become too big and the work of Christ has become too small in our minds. Remember who Jesus is, and what he has done for you, and you will soon desire more people to know him like you do.