THE GOSPELS 33
THE SALT OF THE EARTH AND THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, very few had any true concept of life after death. From the ancients in the east, who believed in reincarnation, to the American Indian who dreamed of a happy hunting ground, most of the concepts of future life were built on imagination and traditional lore. Even those who knew about God had only a hazy concept of the hereafter. The Jews themselves were divided on the subject, and the Saduccees did not believe in the resurrection at all.
So Jesus brought the only definitive hope man ever had. Until He came, there
was no real hope and no real concept of where man came from, any meaning to his life or any expectation of life after death. This gives new meaning to the next words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth”, and “You are the light of the world”. For the first time, men would hear real hope proclaimed and a real purpose to their existence revealed.
Even though these words were spoken to His special Ambassadors, who were chosen to take the story to the world, they should also be taken seriously by everyone who claims Jesus as his Lord. You may never preach a sermon from an official pulpit, nor make a missionary journey to some foreign land, but you are still a minister for Christ and a missionary in a world burdened by sin.
Note the way Jesus ended this admonition: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven”. Your commitment to Jesus Christ means a new life…a new set of standards to live by…a new attitude and responsibility to your fellowman.
As we noted in the last essay, most people are not converted by formal sermons preached by professional preachers. Over the years of my ministry, I have found that most of the really converted are people who have been influenced by the good life of some sincere Christian. “Good works” do not necessarily mean some special work of charity. It means acting in every situation with concern for the other person, and with kindness and gentleness of spirit. It means honesty and uprightness in the ordinary activities of every day, and a pleasant demeanor that makes everyone feel safe and comfortable in your presence. It is not what you do especially but what you are that affects people for good and glorifies your Maker.
Salt makes eating worthwhile for most people, and the salt of the earth makes living worthwhile, for it gives real meaning to life and hope for the future. When there is a storm and the lights go out, we are crippled until they come back on. So, the light of the world brightens the path and offers us a guide to make our lives not only happier, but with a peace that nothing else affords. Those who belong to Christ have the awesome privilege of giving these things to those whom they touch along life’s road.
The great problem lies in the habit, that too many have, of “joining the church” and never letting it touch their daily life. Those who confine their religion to the church building leave the light and the salt in the pew. They, therefore, miss out on the great privilege of joining Jesus in bringing joy and peace to the world. How wonderful it would be if every Christian allowed the Lord to be their companion every hour of the day, and always acted as He would direct. The salt of the earth and light of the world would make the world around you a much happier and hopeful place to live.