Be Salt and Light!
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Manifesting God’s love to those whom He places in our path each day is at the heart of Christian life. Writing about this, the apostle Paul went so far as to say, “the love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14) to do so. In whatever specific ways God leads each of us to reach our part of the world with His love, He has called us to be “the light of the world” and to “let [our] light shine before people, so that they will see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).
Throughout the centuries—in fact, since the earliest days of Christianity—Christians have often reached the world through becoming known as a “force for good” in their community. Even when others didn’t necessarily embrace the Christians’ faith or understand their religion, or when the Christians were persecuted and maligned, their kind deeds and good works shone brightly before all men, resulting in people wanting to know what made them so different from much of society. As the apostle Peter instructed, “Live such good lives among the [unbelievers] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).
As we each strive to reach out and offer a helping hand in our local communities; as we provide assistance—spiritual or practical, or both—to those God puts in our path; as we do our part to bring His love to others and to better their lives in whatever ways we are able, our good example will grow and serve as a “candle on a candlestick” (Matthew 5:15).
By reaching our neighbors, and translating our faith into tangible actions that express our love and concern, we can be living examples of God’s love. Even if you don’t have a lot of time and resources, you can still reach out to your community and take the initiative to fill a need, showing solidarity when possible, and an interest in the welfare and quality of life of others. In so doing, you’ll be putting God’s love into action.—Peter Amsterdam
Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).
In the analogy of light to the world, the good works of Christ’s followers are to shine for all to see. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16). … The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1–10), but also in the sense that our good deeds must be evident for all to see. …
The status of salt and light is something that follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become blurred and our testimony is hindered. Only by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world.—GotQuestions.org1
The biblical fact is that you and I are called to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). We are commanded to bring our light into the darkness (Matthew 5:14–16), following the example of our Lord by going to those who need biblical truth rather than waiting for them to come to us (Mark 1:39).
As Paul addressed the cultural and spiritual issues of his day (cf. Acts 17:16–31), so must we. His questions are still relevant: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).
Retreating from our post-Christian society is not an option for those who would obey our Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). While cultural engagement can be uncomfortable and our cultural opponents can be rancorous, we owe everyone we meet the privilege of hearing the truth that changed our lives (cf. Romans 1:14).
In this sense we are cultural missionaries, not cultural warriors. Warriors fight an enemy they believe to be in the wrong and seek to defeat their opponents. Missionaries know they are no better than those they serve and seek to share the good news that has been shared with them.
As we choose the latter, we must never lose sight of the fact that the good news is indeed good news. Henri Nouwen observed: “Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’
“The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.”
Will the people you meet today see such light, hear such truth, and experience such love through you?—Jim Dennison2
Published on Anchor October 2023. Read by Jerry Paladino. Music by Michael Fogarty.
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