Matthew 5: 13-16, The Christian leaders role in the world is to be influencers of the world!
General Idea: Salt and light are two essentials to life, especially in the ancient world. Salt was more than just a spice for seasoning, it was an essential preservative they were used before refrigeration so people could eat unspoiled food, and it was also a means of commerce as the Romans paid their solders in salt. Light was and is the needed medium for us to see, when the lights are out we cannot see, when we turn off the light to His Word, how could it impact or instruct us. This transfers to the power of the illustration that Jesus is saying to us what good would a disciple be if they did not live as they are called too, they would be like salt that falls in dirt, useless! Or a city that turned out its lights, how could people find it. This passage is the application to the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12) what good would it be if it was just read or placed in a frame on the wall, but never adhered too or put into practice?
1. The Christian role in the world is to be influencers of the world! Not to hide from it, or ignore it, or alienated them from us! We have to find a way to influence it (Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23) without being influenced negatively by their sin and corruption ourselves (Matt. 6:19-24; 32; Luke 12:13-21; I John 2:15-17)!
a. Salt is not just a seasoning! We are not to be just sitting in a pew with our correct doctrine and never doing anything with it! As salt is needed and put to use, so are you and your church are needed and need to be put to use!
i. Salt enhances flavor (Job 6:6) thus we are to help others see their role in Christ and society.
ii. Pure salt never loses its flavor unless it is diluted with impure substances. So we must be careful not to be influenced by the people we are called to flavor and light!
iii. Salt preserves, so we are to preserve not only our own faith but others as well! That means we are to hinder the corruption in the world by being examples and instigators of action and involvement with virtue and morality, tempered with love and care.
b. "but if the salt loses its flavor " refers to what good would we be to have the greatest gift ever conceived and given and doing nothing with it! Jesus warns against losing our ability to be flavoring and preserving!
i. As Salt we are to help make the world more 'palatable', that is livable and manageable to know God, and to help others. It can even mean we are to take the 'distastefulness' (wickedness) away to please His wrath (Christ role is the ultimate wrath appeaser) and desire to judge and annihilate it, although some theologians disagree on this.
ii. We have to bare in mind Satan's influence too (Luke 4:5-7; John 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; I John 5:19) and be diligent to countermand evil.
2. This passage ties into the last "beatitude", where Jesus warned us that the attitude the world will take offence to the things of God and attack us for following truth and righteousness, because they do not want to be reminded of their sin nor convicted of it, so they turn it around on us, as if we are in the wrong and they are merely exercising their freedom of the will (Matt. 5:10-12).
3. As Christians we are the light for the world, Christ is the light of the world. (John 8:12; 2 Co 4:6; 9:12-13; Eph. 5:8-9; Ph 2:14-15; 1 Pet. 2:9-12).
a. We are called to arise and shine to the world! That means we receive His light and then pas it on to others around us (Isa. 60:1-3; Luke 1:78-79; Eph. 5:14; Rev. 21:23-24).
b. Even though the world is in darkness we are still to give light to it in morality convection and care (John 1:15; Col. 1:13; I Pet. 2:9).
c. Even though we may be persecuted and they turn around their sins and try to pin it on us by saying we are evil and falsely accusing us, we are still to shine His light to them, as our Lord did to the people before the cross (Luke 23:32-33). Do not give up!
4. As we are called to impact and influence the world we are not to become influenced or impacted by the world ourselves.
a. Because we are citizens of the kingdom we are called to give the world "flavor" and that flavor and light must be from God's point of view and character not from our presumptions and fallen thinking!
b. This means we are to keep ourselves from sin (1 Co 15:33; Eph. 5:3-7)!
c. What happens if you feel that you have lost that flavor or light? Remove the impurities, the sin and that which goes against His Word and character! Warning if you chose not too you too may be through out! No, not that we can lose our salvation. Unless you never came to Christ, but lose our blessings and the rewards to come (Psalm 51:10-15)!
d. As light we are to Worship Him as a lifestyle and attitude, then radiate and proclaim the praises of God to ourselves (you have to be converted and convicted before you can spread it), family, friends and the world.
e. "lights" in a dark world mean we are to pass it on. For light to be light it must be visible! Just as salt illustrated what good would it be to hide that light from others (John 13:35; 17:21)?
5. Putting it all together: Although our hope is in eternity and this earth is our temporary home we are still to do our best while we are here (I Pet. 2:11). We are not to withdraw from it or become like the world (John 17:5; Titus 2:12)!
a. We are to be different and set a part only in our thinking and virtue. Meaning we are to still to be involved in our society in building relationships and a better society and world. We also need not to be afraid to confront sin and evil, but always do it in the parameters of the Christ like character of love, care, hope while not losing our stand or dignity as His child (Rom. 12:1-3; Eph. 4:17-5:17; Col. 3:5-11)!
i. In so doing we are to proclaim the Word as evangelists in our spoken word and modeling deed (Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24; I Pet. 2:12)!
ii. We are to influence our culture and creation, (that is our society and environment Gen. 1:28-30; Psalm 8:6-8) for the positive!
b. By being salt and light we are glorifying our Father in heaven (Luke 16:9)!
1. Do you ever just want to get away from everyone? If so where would you want to go?
2. How is your seasoning? What do you do to be a positive influence to those around you?
3. Why did Jesus use this illustration to apply the Beatitudes?
4. Why is salt and light essential to life? Why is it essential to the life of the Church?
5. What good would it be if all we did with our Christianity was just read about it or place it in a frame on the wall, but never adhered too or put into practice?
6. Why would some Christians believe we are to hide from the world and ignore it?
7. As salt is needed and put to use, so are you and your church are needed and need to be put to use! So in what ways can you and your church be put to use?
8. In what ways can you and your church help others see their role in Christ and society?
9. In what ways can you and your church help others by hindering the corruption in the world by being examples and instigators of action and involvement with virtue and morality, tempered with love and care?
10. Why would Jesus warn us against losing our ability to be flavoring and preserving? After all how many Christians do you think actually follow this passage, is it a big deal, does it apply to me?
11. What would it mean to make the world more 'palatable'?
12. What are some of the 'distastefulness' of the world that may cause you to cringe to apply this passage to your life?
13. How can you and your church get over your fears and apprehensions and embrace your call and duty?
14. How would a church be diligent to countermand evil?
15. As Christians what does it man that we are the light for the world?
16. We as citizens of the kingdom we are called to give the world "flavor" where must that flavor come from and how can you make sure it keeps coming and not lose its enhancing and preserving ability?
17. How can our presumptions and fallen thinking get in the way of being real salt and light?
18. What do you need to do if you feel that you have lost that flavor or light?
19. We have to find a way to influence the world without being influenced negatively by their sin and corruption. So what are three ways your church can do this?
20. We are to also influence creation that is the environment for the positive! Yet many Christians ignore this. How can you make sure you and your church do not ignore God's creation and your role to be good stewards of it?
Remember by being salt and light we are glorifying our Father in heaven (Luke 16:9)!
© 2002, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org