Saturday 5 March 2022


 Salt and Light   Matthew 5 . (NLT version)

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

In these verses the Lord Jesus speaks to us of two subjects which Christians should support and maintain in the world. True Christians should be the ‘salt of the earth’.  Salt has a taste which is unlike any other substance. It has several important usages.

 We are to be in the world like light. Jesus quoted these two phrases to show Christians how to live worthy of him and bring glory to God and his Church. He is trying to show how the world has wandered away from goodness, but Christians must aim for perfection in morality. We must be an example in society, and not let ourselves deteriorate. To be a beacon of light in a dark world.

 Jesus said, you are the ‘salt of the earth’  and created an expression which is now used to describe someone worthy of admiration.  The Romans used to say there was nothing more useful than salt. It was also very valuable.

 Salt represents purity, and was offered to their gods. Christians were meant to be seen as good and pure people.  We are in a world where there were once standards of honesty, good conduct and good speech recognized. It was common for men to say, ‘not in front of the ladies’ when someone was saying (or doing) something of a doubtful nature, but also to recognize a respect for all ladies, but now it is not only deemed acceptable, even encouraged to be inappropriate, women at times excel men in such. A Christian cannot allow him or her self to lower moral standards, but keep themselves above reproach.

 Salt was also used as a preservative in times before refrigerators were made, to keep food items fresh and free from decay.  Salt stops corruption. In like manner, Christians must have an antiseptic voice in the world, be a cleansing factor.

 Salt was used to add flavor, and Christians  should give to life what salt gives to the food.  It is, most regrettably, that sadly Church members are not living up to those standards mentioned.

 In the early Christian days it was thought that Christians took the pleasure out of life.  Robert Louis Stevenson once remarked after attending Church, ‘I have been to church this morning and am not depressed’.  I can recall going home and saying, I have been to church this morning and I am really thoroughly depressed.’ 

 Jesus said if salt lost its saltiness, it should be cast away. Coming to Church was once an accustomed Sunday practice, and usually was found to be uplifting and pleasant. The Bible makes the point that when anything becomes of no use, it invites disaster, therefore as Christians we should strive not to cause disasters.  We in the Church were meant to be the salt of the earth, bringing purity and a radiance, and all that is worthy.

 In verse 14, Jesus said we are to be the light of the world; he is calling on us to be the like him. In other words, if we are in a controversial situation with two or more options, we should consider what would Jesus do?  We must shine like a reflection of Jesus, a light to put on  to cast away darkness.

A light gives warning of dangers ahead, and Christians may be able to give warnings of trouble if they see someone not a Christian heading for what they may later regret.

 There are two kinds of light mentioned, one of a city on a hill where the light beams out over an area from a city full of light, as opposed to a country area of less light, and the other a lamp with a wick on a stand, which should not be hidden under a bushel.

 Christians are to stand out in a darkened world, with the light of Christ shining noticeably. No instances of hiding your faith, no secret Christianity, we should be proud to be noticed as followers of Jesus Christ.

 We should be recognized in the way we are courteous people of whatever status of society. I found it irritating in hotels when some people, who I would imagine would call themselves Christians, even if never attending a Church, and would treat the waiters male and female as if they were in some lower class of society than themselves. We all have an occupation in which we help others, and whatever level we may be at, as Christians we should treat others with respect, and not be supercilious.

 A light is a guide, and when you find yourself in a dark place or a darkened road, you realize how necessary light is to make a clear and safe way. Christians should show the safe and proper way to live.

 We are called finally to do good deeds, and to do so not to just impress, or as an act of boldness to attract attention to ourselves, rather as an act of kindness which will be recognized as such and bring glory to our heavenly Father.

 Martin Luther interpreted the phrase ‘good deeds’ to mean distinctly the Christian work of teaching the Bible correctly, and stressing faith, showing how to preserve it. 

 Having looked at the meaning of those words of Jesus at his sermon on the mount, let us now turn to consider how they relate to us in the current time.

 I have heard it said, as probably you have, that someone was a perfect Christian because of how they live. Such is often true, I have met lovely men, and women especially, who are quick to respond when a fellow Church member, or just another local friend, was in need through some form of submission.

 I have witnessed ladies in Church anxious to help the less able, and such people do impress and inspire and they reflect credit on themselves and their Church. These ladies show the way the light of Christ shines through them. I know this to be true for I married one, and I saw how much she was loved by people for her kindness. (She was more popular than her husband, even though I was supposed to be the Vicar))

 Christians can show response to Jesus’ call in several ways; help a struggling fellow worker who is finding things hard; preventing arguments which too often lead to aggression.  We should not be lazy workers, steal from employers, respect honesty, be meek in personal activity, but bold in righteous pursuits.

 In modern society some Christians are letting themselves be persuaded there are no absolutes in behavior as long as one’s conscience is clear, but fewer people seem to have a conscience nowadays.  We should challenge such ideas, without being aggressive in opposing, yet we must face the fact that activists have no tolerance for people with opposing views.

 Quite recently the Archbishop of Canterbury was quoted in the press as saying he felt he had not been able to get more people to Church. There will be many who agree with him, but figures are not a reliable picture in view of the pandemic, when people were actually forbidden to attend.  He was rather too quick in ordering all Churches to be closed completely .

 I am sure the Archbishop speaks sincerely, but I am sure he would be more well received if he remembered we live in a different age from that of our predecessors, with different opinions, so it would be helpful if he stopped apologizing for past people, who in their own way gave many generous gifts to society.  It would be helpful if he stopped calling for statues and statements to be removed, to placate the oddities of society. He could support any evangelical preacher, even if they came from the United States. And be more evangelical himself, and less pliable to current society fashion.

 Christians should not support any action, or be intimidated into sin.  We  live in an evil and vicious world, if anyone doubts that, make sure you read a daily newspaper.  At all levels of society, from royalty, through government Ministers, business and trades, there is immorality, corruption, blatant lying.

 The Church is supposed to be the moral voice of the nation, be an antiseptic to society.  Bishops are given places in  Parliament to hold the government to account, yet we have legislation which gravely contradicts the Scriptures, without any protest from the Bishops.  Indeed, some of the bishops openly  give support to those who oppose the Bible teaching on marriage, as it may offend those who disagree.

 We in the Church are engaged in the Lord’s business of preaching the gospel. I have watched two documentaries on supermarkets, Waitrose and Aldi. Both are reputable businesses, but with two different styles.  One is upmarket with frills on, catering for those who like the atmosphere, and some like the impression it gives if they shop there.  The other is  winning customers across the board, aimed at lower wage earners who have no frills, very basic, and very popular as they reduce costs.  Could you visualize either changing their beliefs to avoid being different?  But this is what the Church is doing, toning down its voice to avoid being different.  Preachers are frightened to be too fundamental, lest they be called bigots by people who are themselves bigots.

 This country has followed too fully adopting the American ‘woke’ style, verbally and practically.  We follow anything the Americans do, except follow the many devout Christian churches, pastored by men who really preach the bible.

 I have stated many times, what any person or two persons do, is a personal matter for them alone, but he Church should never surrender the Bible.

 We are (meant to be) salt of the earth, and to remain so. We are (meant to be) lights shining in a dark world, and meant to continue to shine.  I think if Jesus was personally here today, He would be saying those statements.

The problems of society are great, and people have become overwhelmed by resources which try to exercise control over them by dedicated activists pushing their own agenda.

 The Church needs dedicated activists to preach the Christian gospel for Jesus Christ, but there are those holding high Office within the Church who do not seem to want to speak out. There is no strong confidence in the power of the gospel.

 Salt and light have two functions , protection from decay and illumination from darkness.  Jesus is calling his people to exercise a double influence on a secular society. It is much easier to stop evil spreading than to promote truth and goodness.  When the truth is suppressed, standards fall apart and corruption follows.  We are placed in society to penetrate the world.

 To be the salt of the earth, we Christians should be more courageous and outspoken to condemn evil.  Martin Luther made much of rubbing salt into the wounds and denouncing what was wrong. Some Church people would prefer to rub sugar, rather than salt to avoid confrontation. We should stand boldly for all that is good and truthful.  God created the State and family as the social structures, to restrain evil and promote goodness.

 We have to be different to society, not the same. If we are to make any influence in the world people will be attracted by a message and will listen. If we try to fit in with their ways we will become useless and be discarded

The Church should not be like a town nestling in a valley with the light hidden, but shining brightly on a hill to light all around. Not concealing the truth of the gospel, and willing for Christianity to be clearly visible.

 There is an important difference between Christians and non-Christians. Some Christians are undesignable from non-Christians. One is light,   the other is darkness, serving neither God nor ourselves.  The sermon on the mount assumes and calls for us to be different, but the Church has a tendency to conform to the prevailing culture of society instead of the Christian counter culture.

 Jesus came to fulfil the predictions of the prophets, who had long foretold of a Savior one day appearing.  He came to fulfil ceremonial law by becoming the great sacrifice for sin, to which all the Mosaic sayings had pointed.

He came to fulfil the moral law, by yielding to it a perfect  obedience, which we could never have given, and by paying the penalty for our breach of it with his atoning blood, which we could never have paid.  He magnified the law and made it honorable, as foretold by Isaiah.  This shows as I have previously stated, we should not cast out the Old Testament as relic of Jewish history, when it has so much to offer to our generation.

 We thank God for his Holy Word. May his name always be praised.

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