Matthew 5:13-20

On a day when we are busy in our worship services baptising, installing, blessing and thanking, it is good to be reminded through Jesus’ own words that we are salt and we are light, and that we are to do and teach the commandments.  Jesus came as a fulfilment of the law and the prophets, not to abolish them altogether.  Therefore we need to teach and admonish, nurture and grow each other as we journey together along the road of faith.  It’s not an easy road, there are many potholes and even some flooding along the way, the journey requires encouragement and admonishment to see it through.

Lets take a look at the first metaphor Jesus used; we are the salt of the earth.  Jesus didn’t say, you should be or you need to be or that you should try to be, he said “You are”, “You are the salt of the earth.”  What does he mean by that?  He follows that statement up with “if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”

This text is a bit confusing isn’t it?  When have any of you ever come across some salt that had lost its saltiness?  Is this really possible?  Maybe there are some scientists or chemists in the room that could sort this one out for me, but in my experience salt is salt.  We use it to enhance the taste of our cooking, we used to use it more widely to preserve meat but in our context most of us are used to being told that salt is bad for us!  This makes our text a bit tricky, because being the salt of the earth is not meant to mean that we are bad for anyone.  In fact what Jesus is explaining here is that we are to be put to GOOD use, living useful lives, sharing our faith and enhancing the lives of others.  Can you think of someone in your life who was the ‘salt of the earth’ in your life?  What sort of impact did they have on the way you live your life, do you still look on them with fond memories and appreciation?  That’s what we can be for others if we live as Christ has called us to. 

You are the light of the world
These are the same words that are used every time a baptism candle is presented in our congregation.  As a baptised child of God we are his light in the world, we are to let our light shine to the glory of God the Father.  Jesus is encouraging us here not to hide ourselves away from the world but to be like light in the darkness.  We all know that darkness is merely the absence of light, so wherever we go there is light, unless we cover it up, hence his description of not putting a lamp under a bushel basket. 

You don’t go to all the trouble of lighting a lamp or turning on a light and then cover it up with something that blocks the light.  That would be silly wouldn’t it and defeats the purpose.  So it is with us, there is no point having faith and living in the light of Christ if we are going to keep it for ourselves.  Our Christian faith is for sharing, we hear it at every baptism, and very often at other times, Jesus said; “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you to the very end of the age.”

This is letting our light shine; it is there with us no matter what, because Christ is with us no matter what.  It is his light shining through us.  We can’t be salt and light without him, so we are to rely on him and call on him through prayer to guide and strengthen us for the journey.  Having faith, and being a Christian is a relational thing, it is about being salt and light for others, not for us, it is about building each other up and sharing our faith with others.

Teach others to follow
Jesus announced that he didn’t come to abolish the law or the prophets but to fulfil them.  It’s a fairly tough ask he gives isn’t it, if you break one of the least of the commandments and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  We all know how hard it is to keep the commandments; we are quite simply not capable of doing so on our own.  We need Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father to strengthen and guide us.

Most of the time when we hear the message of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is that he came to take away our sins so that we can receive eternal life.  Today that is taken a step further; Jesus is saying that now that we have received the gift of having our sins forgiven and the blessing of eternal life, we are to DO something.  We are to follow the commandments and teach others to do the same.  We are to be salt and light in the world, for non believers and fellow Christians alike.  This is the response to the gift, a way of saying thanks to God.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls it costly grace.  It is cheap grace when we receive forgiveness and salvation and do nothing with it, "costly grace" is a life of obedience to the call and teaching of Jesus.

As I just mentioned earlier, we are to take this journey relationally, together with mutual care and concern for each other.  That’s what our care and contact network is for that we are launching today, to empower each other through keeping in touch with each other, praying for each other, enjoying fellowship together, answering each others questions and concerns.  To help us be salt and light for each other and the world and to follow the commandments.

As we commence a new year, there are many different things going on in our lives, we are all going to be another year older, another year wiser and we have the opportunity to share that wisdom with others.  Let your light shine in the world, to the glory of God the Father, be the salt, good for seasoning the life we live, and teach each other everything that God has commanded you.