I hope this day finds you and your family well. I invite you to take a few moments with me to read and reflect upon today’s scripture selection — and to carry these thoughts with you into your day.
Today’s Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16
“These people are the salt of the earth!” an old, retired pastor said about the congregations I had just begun serving. I was twenty years old, beginning my ministry by serving three small, rural churches while a college student and newly married. I didn’t really know what he meant.
Did he mean they were nice people? Was it just a way to say that they were down-to-earth? Did he mean to say that they were people of the land? All those things were true, but did he mean more by that?
I came to understand that he meant more — much more.
What do you know about salt? It turns out that there is a lot to know! Salt is essential for human life. Salt brings out the flavor in foods. Salting is an important method of food preservation. Salt has healing properties. Salt was prized by every ancient culture.
The word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt because the Roman Legions were sometimes paid in salt, which was quite literally worth its weight in gold. (Or they were paid in money with which they could buy salt.) We speak of people who earn their salary as being “worth their salt.”
You get the picture.
Jesus described his followers as “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” What a compliment! And what a responsibility!
Then, there is the image of light. In the New Testament, light is associated with the titles for Jesus. He is to be, “the light to the Gentiles.” The Gospel of John especially uses the metaphor of light to describe who Jesus is and what he has come for: “In him was light, and that light was the life of the world,” and “The light has come into the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In that gospel, Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world.” So, when Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works,” what he is really saying is, if you call yourself a Christian, then your vocation is no different than mine. I am the light of the world and now you are the light of the world. So let your light shine that you might also bring light to the world’s darkness through the good that you can do.
Salt and light are powerful images and become even more so when you remember that Jesus expanded those images to “the earth” and “the world.” Surely, that means that our influence and our good works are to be global in nature.
John Ruskin lived in the days when English villages were lighted by lamps along the street. One evening, he watched with a friend as a lamplighter moved slowly on a distant hill, lighting the lamps along the street.
Ruskin said, “There is what it means to be a real Christian. You can trace his course by the lights that he leaves burning.”
That’s a good description of the life to which Christ calls us. May we live in such a way that we leave lights burning wherever we go.
Thank you for sharing this moment of your day with me, with God, and with these words of scripture and reflection.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster