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Salt and Light


Jesus told his audience at the Sermon on the Mount that they were salt and light in a world of bland darkness.

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 underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:13-16)

Kari Jobe’s popular song “We Are” urges, “We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine.” If you feel called to increase your saltiness and candlepower, I sincerely want you to go for it. God sometimes needs spicy searchlights.

But for the rest of us, let’s take a closer look at what Jesus actually said and to whom. It may surprise you.

Note the verb. Jesus didn’t say that we should be salt and light. He told his listeners that they already were salt and light. They already were seasoning and lighting a dark world. It wasn’t marching orders he was giving, but encouragement from God.

None of his listeners would have called themselves Christians. They were just the unwashed masses curious about this new, itinerant rabbi and hungry for his message that God wasn’t angry with them. They didn’t understand Jesus, hadn’t committed to him, weren’t his disciples, hadn’t been baptized in his name, or changed anything about their lives. They were just work-a-day slobs, and Jesus called them salt and light.

I can tell you who they weren’t, though. They weren’t the slick, sophisticated, religious elite – the scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the Law. Those guys majored in good deeds, but Jesus called them hypocrites. Reliance on good deeds leads to good deads.

You are beautiful to God just the way you are. You don’t have all the answers, you’re plagued by sin, doubt, and regret, and you’re life is a mess. But, to God, you are a delight to the taste buds and a beacon in the darkness. You can’t help it. Just don’t hide it behind pretend righteousness and slick religion.

Your messy life isn’t wasted effort. It makes a difference to God!

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Mike Pulley


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