02082023A – Matthew 5. 13-20

I am not sure how old I was…But somewhere along the road of my education…

Someone told me to always see myself SOMEWHERE in the gospel text.

Look for yourself. Sure enough, you will always be there…maybe in the background, but trust me, you will always be there, and if not you, yourself, then, someone very much like you…Don’t look for others…Always look for you…yourself!

It’s one of those ways that MAKE the gospels “COME ALIVE.”

So when Jesus says, “You are the SALT of the earth.”

I figure he’s probably talking to the twelve. You know, Peter, James and John AND THE BOYS…And, I am somewhere in the background, trying to OVERHEAR what it is that THE MASTER is talking about…

MY PREFERENCE would be TO BE THERE in the background somewhere…not lurking mind you, but hanging around with others, just chillin’.

Observing, carefully watching, looking…Checking out the body language…And trying to get the gist of whatever it is – that’s being said…Who knows, knowing me, I would probably be taking notes…ON some LAPTOP.

“You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world.” (He says)

And then, I was told…DON’T THINK this is about somebody OTHER THAN YOU.

Jesus isn’t talking to PARTICULAR INDIVIDUALS. He is actually attempting to talk to ALL OF THEM…ALL OF THE PEOPLE…simultaneously, as best AS he can…These were the days before megaphones, microphones, SOUND SYSTEMS and without screaming or yelling…because rabbis would NEVER raise their voices…

He is ATTEMPTING to get HIS message OUT THERE…Oh sure, INITIALLY he may have been focusing on the twelve…But as he taught…And as he spoke…the crowd kept growing and growing…increasing in size…he’s become legendary…I think that’s probably WHERE WE COME IN…

He’s talking to the CROWDS that have followed him from Galilee, the ten cities, known as BEING the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

That means they’ve come from EVERYWHERE – FROM ALL OVER. From all around…an ever-growing group of people. They’ve come TO SEE this ONE they’ve ONLY heard about.

They’ve come to LISTEN and TO LEARN, to be HEALED, and to have THEIR LIVES put back together, again.

They’ve come in hope OF finding MEANING, POSSIBLE DIRECTION, and PURPOSE for their lives.

Some have come looking for DIRECT ANSWERS to certain questions.

Some have come with their DOUBTS and their DISBELIEF.

Some have come for the HEALINGS that they have heard so much about…

Some are probably there because they hope to see something MIRACULOUS, something bigger than life…

And some have probably followed because they are NOSEY and they want to see WHAT THE HECK is going on…and they are afraid of missing out on something…or on anything.

YOU KNOW: Follow the crowds…See where they are headed…See what’s happening…You and I stand among THAT group…We stand WITH them…We’re ONE of them. We’ve come TODAY to see THIS ONE we’ve heard so much about…and to HEAR HIM OUT.

And, Jesus’ words are as TRUE and APPLICABLE today as they were two thousand years ago.

“You are the SALT of the earth…. You are the LIGHT of the world.”

Jesus DOESN’T STOP there, however. Because there are PROFOUND IMPLICATIONS to being named SALT and LIGHT. It means that we are to FLAVOR THE WORLD. We are to SEASON and TRANSFORM human activity in such a way that it REVEALS God in this world.

It means we are to HELP PEOPLE better SEE God’s life in THEIRS. It means we are to ENLIGHTEN the DARK PLACES OF THE WORLD.

You and I are THE MEANS by which God FLAVORS and ILLUMINES “life and the world.” 

It is LIKE looking another in the eyes, speaking A KIND WORD, and acknowledging him or her as having been created in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God.

Try that with someone you’ve already labeled as a WELFARE MOTHER, a JUNKIE, a PANHANDLER, a JERK, or a BULLY.

It is HAVING GENEROSITY with your COMPASSION, TIME, FORGIVENESS, and MONEY to “care for” and “make a difference” in the lives of the POOR, the HUNGRY, and the HOMELESS…and countless others…

It is starting a conversation and “rebuilding a relationship” when what you mostly feel is INDIFFERENCE, PAIN, or ANGER.

It is PRAYING that God will bless you with all the good gifts YOU WANT for yourself and THOSE YOU LOVE, those WHO HAVE HURT YOU, those who are DIFFERENT FROM YOU, and those WITH WHOM YOU DISAGREE. Yep, it means praying for your enemies…

It is standing out from others…Not being afraid to speak up…To speak the truth…or, to say what is right…

Being SALT and LIGHT means trying to make a difference, where you are…

Your home, your family, your neighborhood, your workplace…

You don’t have to preach…You don’t have to shove GOD down their throats…You don’t have to be in anyone’s face…and trust me, they do not want you there. But show them the better way, the higher way, the way of righteousness…So, there we are, watching, listening, and observing…but the question IS….