“He’s the salt of the earth.” It’s a saying that’s not heard as much now as it used to be. It was a way of saying someone was just a really good person. Can this be said of many people in the divisive, hypocritical, slanderous, easily offended society in America today? I hope it can be said of believers, of me.
Jesus begins a time of teaching, here in Matthew 5 and following, commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. He begins with the Beatitudes (Blessed are…). Then He states, “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.”
What is salt? It’s a rock, a mineral used in cooking, canning, preserving, cleaning. Here in the Midwest, it’s used for breaking down ice on roads and walkways. It’s necessary. In Bible times, salt was the only way to preserve food; without it food spoiled. Without it food is bland. In one of the churches my dad pastored there was a senior lunch program. My dad was asked to come a few times and say prayer prior to the meal and eat with those in attendance. He talked about feeling like he needed to salt the chocolate cake because nothing had any flavor. (My mom wouldn’t let him do it.) A little salt makes food palatable. Christians are the salt that keeps the world from becoming rotten to the core; they keep God from “spitting out” the tasteless world in which we live.
Jesus then said, “You are the light of the world.” There is so much darkness in the world around us: movies, TV, literature, music–all focused on darkness. Darkness has a stranglehold on our society. No wonder there is so much depression! Have you ever been in a completely dark room and lit a match or candle? That light seems so bright and warm. That is what we are to be: that beacon of hope in this black night, to glorify our Father in heaven and point others to Him.
The chapter ends with Jesus saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus knows that we will not, in this life, achieve perfection, but as we daily strive to be that salt and light, we are working to become more like Him everyday, and lighting others to Him as we go.