In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us early on what Kingdom people are going to be like. In verse 13, He says, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” In verse 14, He says, “Ye are the light of the world.” Simply stated, these two wonderful parts of ancient living are used to characterize who we are supposed to be. We are to be salty and beaming.
He tells us in these two verses if we are not like that, something has happened. If we’re not salty — one of the great, special spices of life — then something has happened to the salt that has caused it to lose flavor. If we are not beaming, maybe somebody has put us under a basket and while we could be making a difference, the darkness seems to be ruling. Jesus calls on us to be salty, beaming people in a world that is filled with tasteless experiences and dark events. You show up and let the Lord shine and flavor your world.
Salt was such a valuable commodity in Jesus’ day that at times it was used for money. Soldiers were often paid with salt. It’s even from that usage that the word, “salary,” has come. You see, salt is a taste changer. It has extraordinary value, and it has great impact. Put salt on anything – tomatoes, eggs, chips, or popcorn — and you will know it by the intense taste. It is a quality of spice that changes anything it touches and raises our senses whenever we taste it.
Sometimes we who are the children of God have presented ourselves with such somberness that people have cause to wonder where in the world Jesus ever got the idea that we would be flavorful people. I think about a lady who years ago was being encouraged to become a Christian, and while she was somewhat interested, she replied, “No, no. I’m sad enough as it is.” The fact is that she had come to believe Christians were not supposed to be salty, spicy, taste-changers and capable of adding an extra, positive dimension to life.
Jesus said we are supposed to be beaming as though we are a source of bright light emanating into a dark world. When you stop and think about light, you think about all of the things that it does for us. While for Jesus in His day only a small, little candle would change the atmosphere of a room in the middle of the darkness at night, we have bright lights that can be seen for miles and miles.
The principle is still the same. Light gives distinction to things that would otherwise be in the darkness. Whenever we start getting to the warm days of spring, I get more concerned about going out and walking early in the morning when it’s still dark because I can’t see if some snake gets out there on the road. For me, just personally, I’d rather not step on that dude. Light helps us see more clearly. It enables us to have direction and it brings about a new delight in our lives. Turn the lights on.
How are we supposed to be salty and beaming in this old world? Well, it comes about from what Jesus tells us: because of an intimacy, a personal intimacy, with our God. We can have that close relationship with Him that is authentic and real that in turn shapes our lives, and not just a personality quirk but something that brings about a saltiness and a beaming nature that could only come because we have spent time with a God who makes a difference in our lives.
When you read in the Sermon on the Mount that we’re to be salty and beaming, you need to realize that the end result is we make an impact on this world. We touch those people who live in another kingdom, the kingdom without Christ. Not only do we make a difference in their world, we are literally to find our way into that world, to dive into their world, and bring about saltiness and brightness.
Jesus taught us to love those who do not know the Lord. We in the church have a tendency to love who we love and feel close to those who feel close to us, but our salt and light is meant to specifically make a difference in those who don’t know where they are and who they are. We are to love them and show them a world that is truly different because of our relationship with Christ. It is to be intentional — living in a dark, tasteless world and yet being on mission to bring about the substance of who He is and what He has entrusted to us.
Have you ever known of a tasteless, gloomy Christian? Before you answer that, ask yourself if you have ever been that person. It seems as though Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was talking to people who had experienced not being salty and beaming, and He was desiring to equip them, enable them, and fill their lives with spiciness and shining brilliance to the point where at least some time during the day in some way people around them might see a spark, a glimpse, or get a taste of something that is truly wonderful. It all comes from Jesus.
Today let the Lord have His way in you to bring about a new taste in the places and in the relationships where you are, that people will recognize the Lord is here. Wherever you are, don’t let the darkness rule because you are the light and the darkness cannot keep the light from shining.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.