Sunday 18 September – Matthew 5

Matthew 5 – from The Open Bible

13.  You are the salt of the earth. If the salt loses its saltiness, how shall it be made salty again? It is then not useful for anything but to be thrown outside and trampled under people’s feet.

14.  You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15.  And no-one lights a candle, and places it under a bushel. Rather they put it on a candlestick, so that it may give light to all who are in that house.

16.  Let your light shine so brightly to men that they may see your noble deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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This is a very well-known passage, but I believe that is is important for Christians to embrace it and to thoroughly internalise it.

V.13 – “You are the salt of the earth”. Salt is always salty.  No matter how many times you taste it, the taste is still distinctive.  It also still does the same job now 2000 years after Jesus was speaking as it did in His times.  This is how we are to be as Christians. We are supposed to have a distinctive, unmistakable taste, day in day out. “If the salt loses its saltiness…”  Well we know that refined salt, the kind we have available today, cannot really lose its saltiness – it maintains its chemical composition, it will always be salt, it will always taste salty.

Apparently though, the salt that they used in the days of Jesus was rock salt, which was a mixture of actual salt and rock – like the salt that is used to melt ice on the pavement during wintry periods.  (It’s funny that what we do with this even at its most useful is exactly what Jesus said – throw it outside to be trampled under people’s feet! ) With that type of salt, it was possible for the actual salt to evaporate away, leaving small bits of rock.  So it is with us as Christians.  The Word of God, the Spirit of God living within us is the “actual salt”.  The Word of God will always be the Word of God.  It will always maintain its chemical composition, as it were. We have to make sure that we retain the Word of God and His spirit living within us so that everywhere we go our taste will be distinctive.  Otherwise, of what use will the church be? It will be “thrown outside”, it will be ignored, it will be considered irrelevant.  Not because God has changed, nor because His Word has lost its power.  But rather because we as His children, His church, have lost our saltiness; and have abandoned the glorious truth of our glorious Gospel for what is easy, and comfortable, and unchallenging, and politically correct.

v14.  “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”.  As Christians, as a Church, this is what we are supposed to be.  Our lives are supposed to shine forth with the light of God, His Word, His truth, His power, His character. The Bible says in Gospel of John ch1 – “The light shines in the darkness….”  It is supposed to be obvious to anyone we come across. Furthermore, we are supposed to do this as a community, so that it is not a matter of individual dispersed lights set across the landscape, but working collectively we are supposed to resemble a city set on a hill.   Several times, I have had the privilege of driving through the English countryside at night.  It is always so obvious when you hit a big city, because suddenly the landscape is full of lights.  Similarly when taking off in an aircraft or touching down at night, once again it is so obvious where the cities are (while you’re still at a low altitude!) because those areas will be alive with light.
While our modern lights are powered by electricity, even in the days of Jesus this effect would still have been noticeable if every home in a city was brightly lit with oil lamps.  This is how we are to be as Christians.  Our lives are to resemble homes that are brightly lit, so that altogether we are to resemble a city.

v15.  “And no-one lights a candle, and places it under a bushel” – We are not to hide our lights, or hide our Christian character. Sometimes it can be easier to do what everyone else does, and say what everyone else says, for the sake of “fitting in”.  Rather we are to “stand up” for God’s truth with our words AND with our actions.  This is like putting our light on a candlestick, so everyone can see us.

v16. “Let your light shine so brightly to men that they may see your noble deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”  Light is a good thing.  When we do the works of light, or walk in light, this is supposed to result in noble deeds.  As Christians we are to shine so brightly with light that lots of positive deeds will result, and people will respect the God whom we say we serve.  We don’t have to “work these things up” ourselves.  All we have to do is stay in the light, and let God shine through us – that is God, that is His job!  The more we stay in God, the brighter we will shine, and the more our lives will be filled with positivity and thewonderful fruit of God’s presence, which everyone around us will be able to “taste, and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34 v8).  Amen! 😉

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