In Mathew 5:13-18 Christ lays out for the disciples what kind of character they are supposed to have; they are to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world- they are to be the pacemakers, the trendsetters.
The bible says that as a man thinks, so is he. It is therefore in the heart that all the secrets of who a man really is are hidden. Everything a man knows, everything a man dreams of, everything he can be, everything he is capable of, is in his heart. We believers should, therefore, seek to translate what we know in our hearts into action.
Jesus’ choice of salt and light in the context that He used them end up giving the same message to the disciples- that they are the ones that should be looked up to. As the church of Christ we are the cooperate body that is the salt of the earth but also as individual believers, the same applies. This affirms for us the privileged position that we have been given and hence challenges us to live intentionally and not just to exist here on earth. The things that the disciples were to do on a daily basis were to be meaningful and intentional and the same now applies to us now; we must really think of who we are.
We must now go beyond knowing and being, to doing. Those that live according to the beatitudes of Mathew 5 will definitely win the world for Jesus; we cannot afford to live contrary to these. As salt was a preservative of the days of old, so now we too must purify and safeguard the society so that it is sustained in the way that God wants. We are the disinfectants of the world. Whilst the Jewish Rabbis saw salt as representing wisdom, the Greek saw it as representing foolishness when it is referred to as tasteless.
Light on the other hand allows people to move easily, to see clearly; it represents clarity, understanding and knowledge. The world is therefore in darkness but we who have believed and tasted of the Lord are in the light. Isaiah 60:2-3 expounds, “See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” As believers therefore, we should be the ones to shine in the world as God’s work distinguishes us from the rest of the world.
How then are we to live? Philippians 2:14-16 explains, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life…” This indeed calls for good behaviour, godly conversation, godly living and generally righteous conduct.
Although we are saved by grace through faith, good works cannot be overlooked because it is these that God created us for, as declared in Ephesians 2:10-“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Once we adopt the character of the beatitudes in Mathew 5, then we are indeed on the right path.
How we live our lives is a greater testimony than the words that we say. We are letters being read in all the places we go. One person aptly put it that we are the entire Bible some people will ever get to read. Another person said, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words.”
Salt and water expend themselves meaning that we are not called to self-centered religiosity. We are not just to think of ourselves. We are to disperse, extend ourselves, impact lives; our good works must bring glory to God. We must have the Word and the good works. James 2:14-17 clarifies, ‘What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’
Evangelism is important as illustrated in Romans 10:14-18, ‘How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” We use words to condemn injustices but we must do this with love. Our involvement in social justice must be paramount; we cannot only preach against injustices, we must also act. In Acts 4:36 Barnabas acted and sold a field he owned and put the money at the apostles’ feet. God’s works speak where we cannot speak for ourselves. How we have lived will speak for us when we die. In Acts 10:1-4 is a centurion, Cornelius, whose actions pleased the LORD-his prayers and gifts to the poor came up as a memorial offering before God.
The mission of the disciple is to speak out and to live out in order to make a difference in the society. We must be the perfect example by living out our faith. We are in the mission of God when we consistently do right. We must look for positions of influence in order to better make a difference. Although we are not of the world, we are still a part of it and God expects us to be the change-bringers. We are the ones He uses to transform the world, one person at a time. As Christians, our distinctiveness must be seen and felt. We must not cover our light and must get involved in the world.
The church is the only institution that exists for the benefit of both members and non-members. Those of us that have embraced Christ cannot live like hermits in isolation and hide our light. God’s deposits in our lives make us have different values even as we embrace that which we have learnt from Scripture. Our distinctiveness comes from the Lord and we can only be effective missionaries when we live in reference to Him. The more attached we are to God through His Word, the more values and effectiveness we get from Him, for He has called us in the academic and social world to make a difference and bring glory to Him.
The greatest and worst poverty is that one of the heart. If we know the Bible from cover to cover yet do not practice it, we are poor. As true disciples, we must embrace the true religion of Christianity by practicing it. This is our mission.