For the past two weeks, our daily readings have been from the Old Testament, beginning with the opening chapter of Genesis. These Old Testament readings reminded us that from the very beginning God has been about the work of mission and throughout the history of the people of Israel, God was sending people forth to accomplish his purposes in the world. Often times, those called by God faced both internal conflicts and external obstacles, but ultimately they remained faithful to God's call to participate in his mission.
Entering the New Testament
As we begin this third week of our "Missional Journey," our focus now shifts to the New Testament. Today our reading comes from chapter 5 of Matthew's gospel, which is the start of what is traditionally known as the "Sermon on the Mount." In this teaching, Jesus describes the nature of discipleship that is lived out in the presence and power of the kingdom of God. Jesus is illustrating what a "kingdom-oriented life" should look like in practice.
Within this extensive teaching, Jesus utilizes two images to describe the nature of discipleship: salt and light. These images help us to understand our "job description" as disciples of Jesus.
Salt of the Earth
In the ancient world, salt was used in a variety of ways, but an almost universal usage of salt throughout the centuries has been as a seasoning. When used in cooking, salt helps to accentuate the distinctive flavors of foods. Salt diminishes unwanted flavors and enhances desired flavors. So, living as "salt of the earth," means that our lives are to be distinctive and noticeably different from the world around us. Moreover, to be "salt" means that our lives enhance (add flavor) to the world in a positive and transformative way.
Light of the World
The call to be the "light of the world" is the call to live our lives in such a way that people see the presence and power of God at work. As Jesus says, a lamp is not designed to be hidden under a basket or behind a bush, but is placed on a stand to give maximum illumination. In the same way, our lives should illuminate the world in which we live, in order that God might be glorified and worshipped!
Take a few moments to reflect on the call of Jesus for us to be salt and light in the world. Salt is only useful if it is shaken and poured out. In other words, salt shouldn't stay in the salt shaker! In what ways is God challenging us to move out of our comfort zones (the salt shaker)? In what ways are we being called to "season" the communities in which we live in order that people might "taste and see" that God is good?