‘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 underfoot.
‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ [Matthew 5:13-16]
It’s easy to look out on the world and feel that the volume of negative stories overwhelms the positives. It’s easy to think that everything’s going bad. It’s easy to want to close our eyes and ears, to look inwards and concern ourselves with the things we can control. The song list. The production. The wow.
But Jesus never sees retreat as an option. And if we want to follow him, we can’t see it that way either.
In these verses Jesus gives us two ideas that can inspire us to get out of the Christian ghetto and get stuck in to some long term change. Verse 13 mentions salt, the stuff that draws out flavours and makes things taste better. But there’s more to the analogy than the idea of that Christians should be good to be around. In Jesus’ time salt was used as a preservative. Without fridges or freezers, all you had to rely on to stop things from going off was a healthy dose of salt.
Does this describe us? Do we stop things from going off? Are we the preservative force that helps keep what is good in the world from going bad? And what about this: could it be that one of the reasons why the world is struggling like it is right now is because the church has retreated a little? Have we lost our saltiness?
Verse 14 does the same thing with light. It’s an essential element of all life, and without it there would be no growth, no life. Does this describe the kind of impact that we have on the world? Are the people around us encouraged to grow through the way we act? Are people in our communities living fuller lives because of our presence? That’s the measure we’re up against.