Last week we looked at several truths concerning our identity in Christ. You can find all of the articles here: Who Am I? Table of Contents.
This week we will be wrapping up the Who Am I? series. I know I have not exhausted this topic yet, but by the end of the week, we will have looked at 24 identifiers for the believer. So, today let us look at what Jesus himself identifies us as.
Matthew 5:13–16 (ESV)
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If you are in Christ, that is who you are. Instead of me breaking this passage down I will let John Stott, beloved theologian, do the job for me.
“To many of us, the verses of Matthew 5 are becoming increasingly familiar. We see their great importance today, and we begin to look at them again. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims, in verse 13: “You are the salt of the earth.” Verse 14: “You are the light of the world.” Verse 16: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven” (ERV).
In both these metaphors of the salt and the light, Jesus teaches about the responsibility of Christians in a non-Christian, or sub-Christian, or post-Christian society. He emphasizes the difference between Christians and non-Christians, between the church and the world, and he emphasizes the influences Christians ought to have on the non-Christian environment. The distinction between the two is clear. The world, he says, is like rotting meat. But you are to be the world’s salt. The world is like a dark night, but you are to be the world’s light. This is the fundamental difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, the church and the world.
Then he goes on from the distinction to the influence. Like salt in putrefying meat, Christians are to hinder social decay. Like light in the prevailing darkness, Christians are to illumine society and show it a better way. It’s very important to grasp these two stages in the teaching of Jesus. Most Christians accept that there is a distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian, between the church and the world. God’s new society, the church, is as different from the old society as salt from rotting meat and as light from darkness.
But there are too many people who stop there; too many people whose whole preoccupation is with survival—that is, maintaining the distinction. The salt must retain its saltiness, they say. It must not become contaminated. The light must retain its brightness. It must not be smothered by the darkness. That is true. But that is merely survival. Salt and light are not just a bit different from their environment. They are to have a powerful influence on their environment. The salt is to be rubbed into the meat in order to stop the rot. The light is to shine into the darkness. It is to be set upon a lamp stand, and it is to give light to the environment. That is an influence on the environment quite different from mere survival.” John Stott, Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World
Being the salt and light of the earth is more than mere survival. It means that Christians have a powerful influence on the world and at the same time the world does not influence the Christian. This is a hard task, but being in Christ is not an easy life. We must be the Gospel-salt that rubs the world-meat (bad analogy but bear with me). We are to be the Gospel lampstand announcing Christ to the hills and valleys of darkness. Illuminate the darkness by proclaiming Christ in all that we do, say, or think. Let the Gospel permeate the darkest of corners. Let the Gospel shine as a lighthouse on the cliff for sailors to direct their ships to safety. Let the Gospel do what it was meant to do by being who you were meant to be. Salt and Light, applying the Gospel to the ugliness of the world and shining the Gospel in dark places.