READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Embracing our radical identity as Salt and Light can radically transform our witness for Christ.
RADICAL Framework of Being Salt and Light
1. OUR IDENTITY – Jesus’ followers are emphatically and specifically entrusted to be the “Salt of the Earth” and the “Light of the World” (v 13-16) – divinely appointed to fulfil God’s redemptive purposes. We are to represent God by mediating His goodness, grace, holiness, and justice to the world. “It’s not just what we do, but who we are.” (Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount)
God used SALT to enact an everlasting covenant when proclaiming King David and his descendants’ reign over Israel forever (2 Chronicles 13:5). Under the Levitical laws, priests were required to sprinkle sacrificial offerings with salt, which symbolised God’s enduring commitment and love to His people. Under the New Testament, Jesus died as the ultimate offering, while His followers are to be the “salt” who point the world to God’s covenantal love and grace.
LIGHT was what Jesus labelled His followers who were to carry on the missionary mandate of their ancestors Israel as “light to the nations” and “reach the ends of the earth with God’s salvation.” (Isaiah 42:6,49:6) As Christ’s disciples, we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” to praise God who has “called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
2. OUR TRANSFORMATION – The essence of Salt and Light is intrinsically distilled in us when we posture our heart and spirit with Beatitude qualities which Jesus taught (Matthew 5:3-10). By the Holy Spirit’s transforming power, we grow increasingly as Salt and Light when we:
- Being poor in spirit, thirst and yearn after God’s holy presence
- Instead of indulging, mourn over our own sins, and the sins of the world
- Are meek, especially to the vulnerable and weak
- Hunger for righteousness to free those who are unjustly treated
- Having been forgiven by God, are merciful to others who wrong us
- Keep our hearts pure in a depraved world
- Make peace in a conflicting, egocentric, power-hungry world
Some expressions of the essence of what it means to be God’s Salt and Light (including warnings of what it is not) are when we:
a) Glorify God in acts of piety and service with pure hearts while practicing our righteousness, praying and giving alms without “sounding a trumpet before us” or hypocritically seeking “to be seen” by others. (Matthew 6:1-2,5) In God alone shall we serve, give, and worship the LORD.
b) Humbly share God’s truth without judging. In a US survey, young adults commonly perceived Christians as anti-homosexual (91%), judgmental (87%), and hypocritical (85%) It is sad when a church self-righteously judges against people rather than meekly wins them for Christ. “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find the bread.” (Daniel Thambyrajah Niles) Mindfully and respectfully, the outreach ministries of Wesley reach out to be a blessing, to create a sense of belonging, and lay a pathway for recipients of God’s love to believe in Him.
c) Serve with compassion the least and less fortunate – not from a privileged position but in solidarity, build a home where suffering is most acute. (Henri Nouwen) After all, Jesus, the Son of God, came in the flesh to us and made His dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
3. OUR WITNESS – Rubbing in to preserve, illuminating where darkness prevails, we befriend for Christ through songs, gifts, meals, a listening ear; provide financial/emotional support, and bring crisis relief overseas. Beyond organised church programmes, we gather every Sunday to be filled and empowered by the LORD, then to be sent out to point others to Christ the Beatitudinal way – with the empathetic, merciful, comforting, humble hands, feet, ears and mouth of Christ in our homes, workplaces, schools, neighbourhood, and social circles.
Being Salt and Light is a whole-life ministry, and not just a programme we volunteer – for “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” (Dwight L. Moody) In Christ we are anointed Salt and Light – to bring to seekers of Truth and Hope, a different life-giving taste and glimpse of the brightness of God’s kingdom.
(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What does it mean to be the “salt of the earth”? What does it mean to be the “light of the world”? Discuss the significance of the “radical identity” that Jesus bestows on disciples of Christ (with reference to 2 Chronicles 13:5; Leviticus 2:13; Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).
- Read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). With reference to the Beatitudes, describe the essence or traits of being salt and light (and what it is not). What is the “radical transformation” that you need within?
- When have you seen a Christian individual or group act as salt and/or light in the family, workplace, community or culture?
- As salt and light, reflect upon your role as a “radical witness” in your family, workplace, and/or church. Give specific examples of how you can grow in your witness to Christ in your everyday relationships: between husband-wife, parent-child, employer-employee, colleagues, school-mates etc.
- What do you think Jesus meant about salt losing its flavour and light hidden under a basket? How is it possible to become “unsalty”? Can you think of ways we sometimes conceal our light?
- Share what your next step of discipleship is. Pray for one another.