Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Matthew 5: 1-20.
Today we’ll focus on verses 13 – 16:
‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
A question: Can we really make a difference to those around us?
Yes. We all have influence and today’s passage has something to say to us.
These passages are said to be Jesus’ most famous. Some say his ‘manifesto’ of the Kingdom. It starts with the famous Beatitudes also known as the beautiful attitudes… each one starts “Blessed are…” This is simply translated from the Greek ‘makarios’ which means ‘happy’. It’s said that these attitudes describe the character of those who will receive God’s divine blessing in the coming Kingdom.
The Jesus manifesto starts like this ‘happy are…’ taking for example, the first one, translated ‘Happy are the poor in spirit…’ in other words: happy are those who don’t rely on themselves. Those who can’t fix their lives. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If you want to make a real difference, If you want real change: Start with you; Start with your character – your internal life – your attitude.
The converse is true today. It’s very easy to moan about our nation. Moan about the church. Moan about Brexit. Moan about a political system.
Jesus isn’t asking us that – he’s saying that when God’s kingdom comes – he will use ordinary people. It’s not going to be a top down political regime but a grassroots transformation of ordinary lives that will make the biggest impact.
Verses 13-19 give us a clue.
Salt was a first century preservative. To keep food from going bad people would rub salt all over meat. Jesus uses an everyday metaphor. So to Jesus, you want to make a difference in society – to your world – don’t lose your salt.
In other words – don’t dilute your faith. How do I do that? For us here at STC we value joining a community; Sunday worship – a sure-fire way of not losing your saltiness is to stay connected to others; other ‘salt people’. To stay different – to stay true to who you are – hang with people who will help you with faith. My Dad came to faith through a number of people – one guy simply didn’t swear in the factory they worked in. He was being salt.
Jesus then talks about light. Every Palestinian home would have an oil lamp. Martin Luther, the German reformer said ‘light’ is like our good works. We might say: Salt is our connection with God – Living for him. Our light, therefore, is our work for him. We are to be different and to live differently. Politicians cannot stop the decay of society – they can pass laws that will help, but being Christ’s people (keeping right internally) and keeping things right (externally).
Notice in v13 Jesus doesn’t say – you might be salt. You could be salt if you try really hard. No! He says ‘you are the salt of the earth’. He says ‘you are the light of the world’. You are!
A few months ago I looked out of our window. I noticed a man from our church walking down our street picking up litter. It wasn’t an STC event – it was just him early one Saturday morning with a black bin liner picking up litter. I’d been moaning to myself about the council ‘dealing with the litter’ and here was God’s man with a litter picker in hand picking up litter – simply serving – making a difference to the local community.
So the question I ask myself is this: am I staying salty? Where can I let the light shine?
Ask Jesus for an opportunity. Maybe it’s a litter pick? Maybe it’s taking the neighbour’s bin in rather than contacting the council? Maybe it’s making a cup of tea for your boss and saying thankyou. What are the simple grassroots things we could do today?
Jesus I pray for every person listening. Open a door of opportunity today!
READING: Matthew 5:1-20
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.