You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
You just heard that WE are the salt of the earth. . . not just others, but us too. Sounds sort of hum-drum, don’t you think?
But in Jesus’ day, salt was a bigger deal than it is now. The Romans believed that except for the sun, nothing was more valuable than salt. It actually was used as a form of currency, and Roman soldiers would sometimes be paid in salt. Hence the expression, “He is not worth his salt.” Plus salt is one of the few elements that is absolutely necessary for life.
Seems like it is a big deal!
Then you heard we are the light to the world. We may question how, being in our current situations, how we could be a light to anyone. I know, it is hard for me to believe that I could be a light when I haven’t been able to find a job for almost three years. And I am sure each one of you can tell a similar story.
But let me tell you a story:
- When a homeless man approached Merrie, a New York City ad executive, in a SoHo cafe last summer and asked for money, Merrie realized she had no cash to give him. She did, however, have an American Express credit card. And, without any more than momentary hesitation, she handed it over to him and asked that he bring it back when he was finished.
Friends and bystanders told her she was crazy, that she’d never see the card again, that she should cancel it immediately. All Merrie said was, “Are we only supposed to trust people we know?” So she wasn’t surprised at all when the homeless man, Jay Valentine, returned the card. “I didn’t have to thank him,” she said. “I trusted him all along.”
Jay also brought her a receipt for the total he charged to her card: deodorant, body wash, water, and cigarettes.
When asked if he was tempted to take advantage of Merrie’s generosity, Jay, a former real estate agent who has been homeless since he lost his job a few years ago, said no. “I wasn’t tempted at all”.
“She trusted me, and I didn’t want to violate that trust. I would never do that.” “It sets a good example that people in need — like I am or worse — can and should be trusted.”
People that we see and meet on a daily basis may form opinions based on our clothing, where we are, what we are doing. If you will be honest with yourselves, each of us does the same thing when we see someone on the streets.
But when Jesus called us the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’ he did because we are the people who rejects their natural reactions and knee-jerk responses enough to trust in the coming Kingdom of God over things like wealth, comfort, power, joy, justice, and peace. Jesus tells us to act with uncommon generosity, trustworthiness, and love toward the people around us.
And who better to show this love, generosity and trustworthiness than those of us who are considered ‘the least of these’. We don’t have power, or status or wealth, but we have something much more precious: a light to show the world!
A light that we should and must not hide under a bushel! We must be a light to the people of the world!
And we are the salt — something that spices up the world around us. it is our task to be the salt of society, preserving, reconciling, adding taste, giving meaning where there is no meaning, giving hope where there is no hope, providing a quality of life
Jesus wanted us to never give up our uniqueness, our influence, or our loving impact on those around us. The purpose of our presence in the world is to;
be an influence in our culture against further insensitivity and cruelty
to season the bitter, dog-eat-dog world with grace and mercy.
be that light shining in the darkest corner
Jesus calls us to action: to shine that light, to spice up our surroundings!
Are you going to ignore that call?
Let Us Pray
Dear holy and majestic Lord, please help me resist being conformed to my culture. Instead, dear Father, please use my distinctiveness as a Christian to bless others and to expand the influence and impact of your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Delivered At In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church, 6 February 2011