Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount

Matt.5:13 - Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Allow me to wax dietary. Salt, or salty, is one of the five basic taste categories. The human palate likes the taste of salt in many different foods, and in fact animal life requires salt to live. Salt is used also in minimizing a taste of bitterness which is another of the five basic tastes. And salt is also used in food preservation.
But I believe our Lord was referring to salt as a seasoning and also the way salt creates a thirst for that which makes up most of our lives - water. Our lives are to be living epistles that can be recognized by unbelievers as different and curious. This difference is not to be forced or manipulated, and the difference should not be because we are dour, inflexible, or morally self righteous. And we cannot be different if we join “forces” with the unsaved on any important issue that would cloud the majesty of God’s gospel of grace. Helping to sod your son’s little league field with unbelievers is light years from aligning ourselves with unbelievers in political morality, national allegiances, or war.
Our seasoning must not be about what stands we take about issues, or even our systematic theology. Our seasoning must be about Jesus through the power of God’s Spirit. “O taste and see that the Lord is good” says the Psalmist. Denominations have been a hindrance to penetrating evangelism because so many denominations are so inflexible about certain points of doctrine that they have separated themselves. And most of the time the points of doctrine in question are not central to salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. That kind of in house sectarianism dilutes the power of the gospel and magnifies things other than Jesus Himself.
We as western believers have lost the fragrance of Jesus; the seasoning that permeates our lives in such a way as to be noticed. The lost person does not care if you do not drink or smoke or go to the theatre, but he can see acts of compassion and kindness. He cannot understand to squabbles over the nature of the Trinity, however he might respond to a joy and peace that passes all understanding. We are not called to live “your best life now”. No, a thousand times no! We are called to allow Jesus to live through us. Many believers live as if this is all there is, but with their lips they express a belief in eternal life.
A man inherits 60 million dollars. He and his family get into the car and start the 10 hour drive to the lawyers office to receive the check. They stop for gas, and drive on. Then they stop for gas once more, he pays the attendant with a credit card, and then the man reaches into his pocket and feels nothing. He “knew” he had placed a five dollar bill in his pocket but now it is gone. He berates everyone in the car and demands that every inch of the car be searched. They spend over an hour tearing the car apart but did not find the five dollar bill. They continue their journey again but the man is unsociable and bitter.
What would you think about a man like that? Would you doubt that he had indeed inherited the money, or would you doubt his sanity? Either way, the man’s behavior did not mesh with someone only hours away from collecting 60 million dollars. And so it is with believers who get entangled with the things of this world to the extent it occupies their time and energy and seems at odds with someone on their way to inherit eternal life. In truth, when we are compromised from a crucified life it always indicates a lack of faith on some level.
Now salt produces thirst. Our lives, when lived in His power, should produce a thirst in people to know what we know and the reason for our hope. A life lived for Christ is selfless and humble, and it pursues the life to God’s glory and in the best interest of others. That kind of life has no earthly motivation, and it is that lack of observable motivation that creates an atmosphere of curiosity. People can ignore or even confront others with opposing issues, however they may find it difficult to ignore someone who loves and cares for them even though they may have opposing issues.
Correction belongs in the church, but for too long the church has sought to correct the lost, and with varying degrees of judgment depending upon the particular sin. It is time we begin to touch the darkness with light. It is time we begin to live redemptively. It is time for the church to be Jesus to the world around us. Of what good is salt if it cannot be tasted, or it cannot preserve, or it does not elicit thirst? Jesus said it is of no good, especially as it concerns the kingdom of God.

Remember, salt is most recognizable in foods that are without any salt at all.
And our salt can be most effective when it is surrounded by people who most desperately need it.

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