You are the salt for everyone on earth. But if salt does no longer taste like salt, what is its purpose? It is no longer useful for anything and it will be poured away and crushed.

Your are the light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lamp stand, where it shines for everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good deeds you do and will praise your Father in heaven for it.

Matthew 5, 13 - 16

Dear Reader,

today Jesus shows us the value Christians have in this world. What important significance does it make for this world, that we as Christians are there. For some ears, this may sound presumptuous - but God looks at it from a different perspective. For him his people are important in this world. We are worth a lot to God, but at the same time he also transfers great responsibility on to us.

Jesus makes this clear in two parables, namely, in the picture-talk of salt and light.

1. Salt and light are vital.

People at the time of Jesus knew immediately what he meant: a life without salt and without light, was nearly  impossible. Salt was not just the spice for a good meal. Salt was needed especially for the preservation of fish and meat.

Imagine Peter, after doing his job as a fisherman.  If he wanted to keep his sardines fresh, then he had to salt or pickle the fish. Otherwise, they would be rotten very quickly at 100° F!

The fish had to be preserved very fast. And freezers did not exist. There was no electricity. So: Put the fish on salt as fast as possible in order to be able to eat them later on.

And light? Light was also important in these dark, windowless houses. Light came from an oil lamp into simple, dark rooms. An oil lamp that made the room a bit brighter.

People at this time understood immediately what Jesus was talking about. Salt loses its purpose when it is no longer salty. That's logical, of course!

Jesus says: If salt does not salt anymore, what should we be using to salt?  There is no use any more than pouring it off to step on it and crush it. To be used as road salt.

That had nothing to do with gritting the sidewalk against snow, but with the salt production at these times. Today, salt is obtained industrially as pure cooking salt for the kitchen. That was not possible 2000 years ago. Salt was often extracted from the sea and was contaminated. If salt became damp for example, then it could also spoil. And then it had to be thrown away like garbage.

The decisive factor is the effectiveness of the salt. Jesus says it has to work. It has to do what it's made for: salt must act as a salt. It has to season, it has to conserve.

And so it is the same with light. Light must shine, must brighten its environment. It is not possible to fulfill its purpose under a bucket. An oil lamp loses its purpose when it stands in a dark room and burns, but is covered. Then it soon gets no oxygen and goes off.

Now it's getting exciting! Because Jesus refers these examples to people, to his listeners, to us Christians.  Both, to you and me.

What Jesus says is breathtaking. O.k. people, he says. YOU are the salt of the earth. YOU Christians are the light of the world.

It is you. He doesn´t say: Could you maybe imagine, every now and then, depending on age and beauty, getting a little bit of salt into your church or perhaps become a little light within your family?

No, he says. You ARE the salt of the earth. You ARE the light of the world! - You do not have to faint right now and say: that's impossible! I can not do that! This is too much! Jesus, that is more than I can cope with.


2. Jesus does not overwhelm you. He honors you with this commitment!

Jesus honors you. He gives your Christian-being an unimaginable value. Jesus gives this value. The salt can not choose its value. Not even the light.

If Jesus appeals to you and to other Christians, "you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world," then he will not just give you a new function, but he will give you a whole new reason for being.

It makes a big difference whether you are only a “functional” Christian or if you are truly Christian through and through. For me, a functioning Christian is someone who turns on his light switch when necessary. This type of Christian sometimes acts when he has to show that he is a Christian. But he turns off the "Christian light switch" again, if it does not suit him any longer. This is a kind of an “energy-saving” Christian.

Or somebody who can become spicy as salt if it suits him. But who can also shift to sweetness when he likes it better.

Jesus made it clear: You are salt and light with your whole being, with all your personality. Not just on Sundays, but 24/7.

The apostle Paul said this spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17): Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.

And in Galatians 2:20: I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of Man, who loved me and gave his life for me.

This is the essential difference between a functioning Christian who decides for himself whether, when and where he wants to be light and salt, and a Christian in whose heart Jesus Christ lives and whose being is increasingly shaped by Jesus Christ. Who cannot help but being salt and light. Who wants to be nothing else but light and salt in his environment! In his community!  In the place where he lives.

We become salt and light when the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Not only a guest every now and then, but if he lives permanently in us and works on our personality.

We must allow ourselves to become what we should be for Jesus: Salt and light. This is our destiny as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus warns us: Christians who do not want to be light and salt are as useless as spoiled salt or like an oil lamp under a bucket. Nobody needs that. And God neither. These people miss their target, miss their destiny. And that would be a pity.

They are powerless, ineffective in this world. They are bland, sometimes even tasteless, superfluous. They have no charisma. They are ultimately ineffective. But that's what they should be, effective in this world.

Therefore: Let´s be salt and light wherever we live and work!

Jesus does not limit our area of activity. On the contrary: He expands it. As light and salt we are allowed to work wherever we are. Just wherever we have our life-center.  Because salt is  food.

There is no dual system for us Christians: Being pious and nice on Sunday - and in our everyday life, we use our elbows and show who the top dog is.

People with salt and light bearers are kind and compassionate in every place, in all life situations, wherever they are.

I want to clarify this at the end:

I always carry a small night light when traveling.  So that I can find the light switch or the door at night when I have to get out. This little night lamp belongs into my luggage like a toothbrush.

So it should be with our spiritual light. Wherever we are: a firm YES to God's will, to God's mercy, to His love for humanity. Whatever we do: longing for peace and justice, adoration of the Holy God, this should be part of our nature.

Jesus tells us why this is so important: "Let what has made your life bright, also benefit others. So people will notice how you are committed to good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father for it. Giving  glory to the Lord. "

Light and salt means - we are committed to the good. Which promotes life, which promotes relationships. This honors God the Father. And this is our destination: We honor the Lord and we do it with our total being wherever we are.

If you say: My life is sometimes bland and without any flavor, and each day is gray in gray, then there is a way to change that. Let Christ into your life, let the Holy Spirit into your heart. Let him work. Trust him. Then your life will be bright and your personality full of spice. You become a "tasteful" person whom others will enjoy!

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© 2020 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main