"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:13-16)
Since God has called us to be His salt-and-light servants in a bland, dark society, it will be necessary for us to commit ourselves to the task before us. Remember, salt must not lose its taste, and light must not be hidden. In order to keep us on target, let me suggest three statements that declare and describe how to fulfill this role.
1. "I am different."
Probably the greatest tragedy of Christianity through its changing and checkered history has been our tendency to become like the world rather than completely different from it. The prevailing culture has sucked us in like a huge vacuum cleaner, and we have done an amazing job of conforming.
But servants are to be different. As one man put it, "as different as chalk is from cheese." As different as salt is from decayed meat . . . as light is from the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. No veneer, remember. We are authentically different.
2. "I am responsible."
If I read Jesus's words correctly, I see more than being salt and light. I am responsible for my salt not losing its bite and my light not becoming obscure or hidden. Every once in a while it is helpful to ask some very hard questions of myself. True servants do more than talk. We refuse to become the "rabbit-hole Christians" John Stott speaks of, popping out of our holes and racing from our insulated caves to all-Christian gatherings only to rush back again. For salt to be tasted and for light to be seen, we must make contact. We are personally responsible.
3. "I am influential."
Let's not kid ourselves. The very fact that we belong to Christ—that we don't adopt the system, that we march to a different drumbeat—gives us an influence in this society of ours. Maybe the quaint old "keeper of the spring" was not seen very much, but his role meant survival to that village in the Alps. We are influencing others even when we aren't trying to act "religious" or preach from a soapbox.
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