“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
These verses ring with the gripping familiarity of Jesus’ teaching. The phrases are unstoppably memorable. “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.” But have I really allowed them to shape how I live each day?
As I pause to reconsider, here are some reflections from these homey illustrations:
(1) I am significant. That sounds arrogant, but it’s simply the implication of Jesus’ teaching. If I am salt and light, I have a high value for the world around me, a significant role to play. Salt turns bland food flavourful, preserves meat and fish from rotting, and creates thirst for life-giving water. Light opens eyes that would be blind, creates new growth where there would be none, highlights dangers, spotlights beauty, and allows relationships to flourish. Beyond myself, I have a Christ-given calling. I need to take it seriously.
(2) I am dependent. My own identity only flows from the goodness of Jesus. If I am to truly hear him call me “light,” I must first hear him make his own self-declaration: “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12, 9:5). My own calling can only ever flow from his. It’s not resident in me, but in him. Similarly, with “salt.” If I am to impact the world with flavour and preservation and desire for living water, it can only be as he himself is the one in whom “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). I need to lean into him constantly.
(3) I need to be myself, in Jesus. Salt doesn’t expend energy gritting its teeth to be salt, nor does light struggle to be light. Each simply is itself, and hence impacts the world around. Similarly for me. As I am dependent on him (see point #2), living in him, I simply need to keep moving, engaging in all he puts before me and therefore allowing his light and saltiness to be brought forth in me, so that good deeds bring praise to the Father. I need to be myself, in Jesus.
(4) I can’t get distracted. What a tragedy for salt to lose its saltiness. What a waste for light to get covered by a bowl. I hear the Lord telling me to keep distractions from diminishing who he has called me to be, and how he has called me to live. Salt is good, but not when it’s un-salty. Light is good, but not when it’s hidden. I need to keep eyes on Jesus. I need to keep walking in him.
(5) It’s not just me. Of course. All this instruction is spoken in the plural, not just to me as an individual, but to us together. This Christ-given calling is spoken over us collectively. We strengthen one another in it, urging one another on, picking up the slack when others are faint, leaning into others when we ourselves struggle, keeping eyes on Jesus together so that we follow his lead. It’s not just me. I need you and you need me.
Oh, may he fulfill this reality more and more. May salt be salty. May light brighten the world. For Jesus’ name’s sake.
Lord Jesus, thank you that in you we have this calling. Fulfill your purposes more and more in your people. Strengthen me for my part. Keep me focused. Keep me from distraction. Keep me leaning into you. Amen.
Reflect: Where has the Lord currently placed you as salt and light? Who has he placed alongside you? What could diminish your effectiveness? Put it all in his hands again.