I based this post on a familiar scripture from Mathew.(5:13-20) Familiar even if you haven’t read it because of the song based on it, “This little light of mine.” This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine. We have all sung the lyrics to the familiar hymn. How many of us have relegated this to the children's sermon. Along with Jesus loves me. It’s ok, you can raise your hand. It falls in the larger section that is the Sermon on the Mount. There, Christ speaks of those who are blessed, but in our passage today he continues on what the responsibilities of those who are blessed is.
Our passage falls after the well-known beatitudes, where Jesus expounds on who is blessed. It is Christ’s rule for how those who are blessed should live. Their lives are meant to be transformed but this is not a simple list of rules. He calls the disciples to be Salt and light. Today’s passage comes in the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. A sermon that was most likely preached to his disciples, but heard by the larger crowd on that hill. Jesus begins by saying that his disciples were to be like the salt of the earth. Think about it. Salt, for much of human history, and Jesus time is no exemption, was used to preserve food just as much to flavor it. Granted salt in Jesus time was not always pure, and could lose its taste and effectiveness. Salt, in of itself is not a really effective substance, unless it is applied to something. Jesus is telling his disciple that they are no good unless they are applied to each other, unless they are added to those around them to preserve and enhance each other.
Jesus goes on to encourage his disciples to be a light unto the world. Just as you wouldn't hide your lamp under a bushel or bush, why would you not let your light, the light of Christ shine? Oil lamps in the ancient world were the only source of light after dark, and had to be maintained overnight. It would be foolish to light one and then hide it. It literally was the only brightness shining in the darkness.
So what do Salt and Light have to do with each other, and why is Jesus talking about them to his disciples. Salt purifies, it preserves and it flavors. Light is meant to be seen, it guides us, and it can warn us. If we are to be people of integrity and shine forth the light of Christ, we must be people who live by God’s commandments, not allowing for those around us to see us without integrity. Too often I heard in my work as a college chaplain in Iowa that people chose to not gather for worship with us because of the hypocrisy and lack of integrity they saw from the church as a whole. Jesus warns us of this in our passage today, that even in breaking of the least of his commandments, we teach others to do likewise. We must stand firm in our faith in the commandments and the integrity of the cross so that those looking in from outside the church can learn that we are living, striving for the promise and hope that is in Christ. Our lives shine for the world, good or bad. We are to stand firm in Christ and let our lives reflect that. Love and not law is the rule of the kingdom of God. Christ calls us to live and act in love. When we read the Gospel of John, we are assured of the True light that came to enlighten the world. Just as John the Baptist did, we are called to testify to that True light, the Light of Jesus.
Our lives shine for the world, good or bad. We are to stand firm in Christ and let our lives reflect that. Out of Darkness came the Light of Christ on the cross. When we walk and talk in the integrity of the Cross, we allow the light of Christ to shine through all of us and be an influence to all around us. If we can lead on person out of the darkness into the warmth of the Grace of Christ we can influence them for a lifetime.
I encourage all of you, let your light shine. BE that City on the hill, be a guiding light to anyone you meet, letting your light strengthen and purify you and the world.