02082023 – Matthew 5. 13-20

The church has its CRITICS.

It has ALWAYS had its critics.

Their voices are MANY. But then, you already know that! But maybe MORE THAN WE REALIZE.

Many have been HURT by the church.

And continue TO BE hurt by it.

APOLOGIES are few and far in between.

Israel had its critics, as well.

Among them, were THE PROPHETS OF OLD.

A long time ago, Deutero-Isaiah wrote:

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness.
    I have taken you by the hand and kept you.
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
    a light to the nations…”

So, perhaps these words of Jesus were ORIGINALLY ADDRESSED to Israel, as a nation, as a people, and as a whole.

That would make PERFECT SENSE.

Jesus WAS NOT only a cheerleader for Israel, but he was ALSO A CRITIC, as well.

The words would come off as being a REBUKE of sorts.

Israel had FAILED to fulfill its mission to “the GENTILES,” to whom it was intended to “bring THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.”

Gentiles being NON-JEWS. The COSMOS. The WORLD. Everyone else, besides Israel.



They were too SELF-CONCERNED.

They had NOT kept up THEIR END of the covenantal agreement. They WERE NOT doing their job.

They were UNSUCCESSFUL, DEFICIENT, had NEGLECTED their responsibility, and were found WANTING.

The nation was to be a BEACON OF HOPE. And they were NOT. They had FAILED.

CORPORATELY, as a people, they HAD FAILED.

Now, as stated by Jesus in the sermon of the Mount, and as used by Matthew the gospel writer…

These self-same words come off as A REBUKE to the “early church…”

Perhaps to Matthew’s church…in his own day and time.

The congregation to which he BELONGED…

Perhaps to all of the churches that were ESTABLISHED and MET in the years 70-85 in the common era…

And maybe, just maybe to churches in ALL PLACES and at ALL TIMES…

They “TOO” had a MISSION…

And it happened to be the SAME MISSION, as Israel before them…

They were CALLED to be “the light of the world” and they were called to be “the salt of the earth.”

They were to be PRESENT for others…

Their SOLE REASON for existence was not for THEMSELVES, but for OTHERS…

And now, the early church was found to be WANTING…

Like Israel before them, they WERE NOT fulfilling their destiny to “OTHERS…”

When SALT and LIGHT are NOT FULFILLING their proper function, they are UTTERLY USELESS; but when the church, the local church, and the congregation discharge its “light-giving-role” people will glorify, NOT the church, but GOD.

It was NEVER about “the church.”

What WE DID.


What we have DONE.

And you do realize, the word church means “THE PEOPLE OF GOD.” The “ASSEMBLY OF THE RIGHTEOUS.”

And that IS the point HERE.


NOT the church. NOT the pastor. NOT the people. NOT INDIVIDUALS. But GOD! And God alone!

If God IS NOT glorified, then is the church fulfilling its mission and its ministry?

And so, the question is to be raised, it is to be asked, in EACH AND EVERY GENERATION…is what we do HERE, to the Glory of God…or is it, about US?

Is GOD glorified? Or are WE?

Does God get the KUDOS or does “the church?”

When attaboys and attagirl’s are passed out, is God MENTIONED?

So, when Jesus is saying, “YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH.” The immediate question that must arise is, “ARE WE?”

When Jesus looks over the heads of his disciples to the people ASSEMBLED and THOSE ASSEMBLING and says, “YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF WORLD.”

Again, it comes back to US.


Is THE CHURCH the light of the world? Are WE the salt of the earth?

IF NOT, then, we still have MORE TO DO, we still have A LONG WAYS TO GO, and we have some WORK to be done.

The church has NEVER arrived.

We are NEVER where we want to be…


We are forever JOURNEYING…forever trying to DO BETTER and get IT right.

I think of the prayer that was and is attributed to Francis of Assisi:

Lord make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow LOVE; where there is injury, PARDON; where there is discord, UNION; where there is doubt, FAITH; where there is despair, HOPE; where there is darkness, LIGHT; where there is sadness, JOY.

Grant that WE may not so much seek to be consoled as TO CONSOLE; to be understood as TO UNDERSTAND; to be loved as TO LOVE.

For it is in GIVING that we RECEIVE; it is in PARDONING that WE ARE PARDONED; and it is in DYING that we are BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE.

Help us TO BE the church, the people of God that YOU HAVE ENVISIONED. Help us TO BECOME, that which you would HAVE US BE.