You can’t half tell when the salt is missing can’t you. It makes such a difference to the taste.
And you know, this is precisely what Jesus is saying about salt. But rather strangely he says it in this way;
‘You are the salt of the earth’.
In other words you and me, or anyone who professes to be a Christian, anybody who lives for Jesus, is the salt of the earth. And what does salt do – it makes a big difference! It has a huge impact, it adds flavour and taste to everything. But more than that you know its there!! Do you know what I mean? When you add too much salt to something its so obvious that its there!!
And that is what Jesus means, people should recognise us as Christians, wherever we are. And that means at home, in school, in work, in our social circles, down the pub, wherever, people should recognise that there is something distinct about us. And it should be like that when people come through the doors of our church, they should sense there’s something here, and more than that if were doing things properly, they should want to be a part of it. Its like the difference between vegetables cooked with and without salt. People should walk through these doors and taste the difference. Do they? And if not, what are we going to do about it.
Like the taste of salt we should stand out. How? How can we do that? Well little things, like not swearing, not bad mouthing others, not gossiping, but by being kind, helpful, well mannered, respectful, joyful, loving. All these things stand out against the crowd. Try it this week, rather than thinking horrible, critical thoughts about someone, try to be positive and affirming and see the difference that it makes both to you and to them.
Sometimes, the taste of salt leaves a bad taste in the mouth – Its not welcome. And that’s also how it can be for us as Christians. Sometimes, it can leave a bad taste in our mouths. And this works both ways. Firstly, we might find ourselves getting wound up by something that goes completely against our beliefs as a Christian. For instance, you might find yourself, in the middle of a gossiping incident at work and you realise that this is not the right thing to be doing and so it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth because you know as a Christian that its not right and it grates , or another example, my mum gets so wound up by the TV and all the bad language and crudity that is creeping onto our screens earlier and earlier, its wrong, it goes against her Christian values and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But also, it can work in the opposite way, when you make a stand, when you say something, standing up for your faith, for your belief, others don’t like it! It upsets them and leaves a nasty taste in their mouths and that might show itself in different ways, by being laughed at, ridiculed, picked on.
But you know, the one thing that matters, in all of this is that you remain true to who you are in Jesus. As long as we stand firm in him, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. The book of Romans tells us that.
There is one thing that has a huge impact on people, and that is integrity and honesty. 2 huge Christian values. If we have those values, then we find that people are more willing to trust us, to value our opinion and to open up to us, then when we talk about our faith, people are able to see that actually its our faith that makes the difference, its our faith in Jesus, lived out in practice that makes the difference. The way we live, the way we speak, the way we deal with others, is seen by others, and that’s living as salt!
You know, salt also preserves and has healing qualities. Before fridges were invented people used to use salt houses to preserve food from going off. The salt stopped it going bad. And that’s the same for us. Its our faith in God, that stops us from rotting. Stops us going along with the worlds ways and helps us to stay strong.
And finally Jesus uses another example to make the point.
He says ‘You are the light of the world’. It’s the same idea.
You make a difference in a dark place. This world is a dark place, theres lots of things that happen which are not nice. Lots of things that are wrong. Why? Because we can get away with doing bad things in the dark, we think no-one can see!!! But each of you, if you have the light of Christ living in you carries a light. One light, one light, makes a difference in a dark place. It lights the path, it shows the way, it guides our path. But something amazing happens.
One light, makes a difference but look what happens when those lights join together. They become a beaming mass of light. And that’s us as the church, thats what Jesus calls us to be, to be the light that shines out and gives light to everyone.
When you light the candles on a birthday cake and then you turn out the lights so that everyone can sing happy birthday. What is everyone’s gaze focussed on? What are your eyes drawn towards? The light of the candles!! You see people are drawn to the light. If we as the church, as God’s people, shine bright enough and make a big enough light, people will be drawn to it!!! Jesus says, ‘You are the light of the world’. You can make a difference! you can change things for yourself and for those around you, by allowing the light of Christ to shine in you!! How – Jesus tells us in verse 16 ‘Let your light shine that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven’.
Are you shining brightly?
Are you being distinctly different in the way you live?
Are you making a difference?