In the Valley as it is in Heaven: Salt and Light

Week 2Matthew 5:13-20 – Salt & Light

Date: September 16 & 17

Writer: Lamar Allan

Big Idea: We are called to preserve the good and shine light on how God is moving in the world.

I remember many years ago, seated in a gym/chapel on a hot Sunday morning, participating in church service, when new insight came to me that caused a deep emotional response.  The service was at a school for children of global ministers scattered across West Africa.  My wife, daughter and I were volunteers, serving as teacher, principal and school nurse at Ivory Coast Academy.  The children spent their week busy with school while their parents sought to share the Good News of the Gospel with those they lived among.  I had a great deal of admiration for the parent’s faithful service but did not recognized that the children, when with their parents, also had a God chosen role to play.

As the church service progressed the children began to sing one of those old-time hymns, “We’ve A Story To Tell To The Nations.”  Their words of praise filled the room as they proclaimed their commitment to God’s passion, to make His message of redemption clear to the world. I was surprised by my emotions, being overcome with the realization that the children, as well as their parents, had crossed the ocean to proclaim God’s love and forgiveness to people that had not heard God’s message. While with their parents, the children playing with their friends, were an active part of God’s plan!

Some years later this insight was confirmed while in my office at Calvary.  I met with a young woman who came to the office asking to talk with a pastor about Christianity.  She told me of a time in her childhood when she played with neighborhood children who’s family identified themselves as followers of Jesus.  She was so impressed with the way they lived their lives, as an adult, she wanted to know more.  I had the privilege of sharing with her God’s love and His provision of the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  She very willingly placed her faith in Jesus.  As I reflected on those moments, I was very aware that it was not my words but God using the influence of children to draw her to Jesus.

As Jesus spoke with His disciples and others, He made it very clear that His ongoing ministry, after His departure, was to fall directly into the hands of those who would follow.  GOD STILL HAS NO PLAN B!  What was true in the first century is just as true today.  One of the things I appreciate about Jesus is that He spoke in “down to earth everyday language.”  The account in Matthew 5:13-20 speaks of salt and light, but don’t be fooled, they are simple metaphors that require us to ponder the deep and hidden truth Jesus making.  He makes it very clear, we are to have the qualities that salt and light provide to daily life.  These qualities will draw people to seek God and His salvation.

Let me briefly list those qualities and to reference how we might see them expressed through our lives. “SALT” played many roles in the first century.

It flavored their food-How could our lives cause others to want to taste more of the Jesus Life?

It purified things-How would our culture benefit from our living a righteous life?

-It preserved things– Without being judgmental; how can we live a pure life before others?  How could our following Jesus impact their life?

Jesus was calling His people to be influencers!  Kingdom people want to change the world, as ever increasing “ripples of Jesus” are cast into a still and quiet pond.  Jesus changed people and the world with His message; doesn’t it seem reasonable that He would still like to see that happen through His followers who are God’s salt in the world?

Jesus also challenged His followers to be “LIGHT.”  The contrast between light and darkness is something we experience every day.  One reveals and makes clear our surroundings, while the other makes it very difficult to comprehend a safe path to follow.  It is also important to remember the inevitable impact of light on darkness.

I remember a guided tour through a large cave.  At one location on the tour the guide warned us that she was going to extinguish the lights located along our path. We had the rare experience of total darkness.  I raised my arm so that it was in front of my eyes but could see nothing, this was particularly surprising because I was wearing a white coat.  After a few moments, the guide lite a match, I was amazed at the impact of such a small light!  Not only did the white coat become apparent but people and the room were immediately visible.  Our master teacher, Jesus, wants us to know He desires to be seen in a clear and apparent way.  Our lives are reflections of Him!

Calvary Church has chosen I John 2:6 as a daily roadmap for our lives, “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” Our passage in Matthew proclaims that the role of light is to be held high so all can see rather than hidden which benefits no one.

Draw close to Jesus this week so your life will be one that people will taste and see what Jesus is like.  It is your opportunity to let His life walk among your family, friends and neighbors!

Reading:  I Peter 2:1-12; Matt 4:12-22; John 8:12; 9:5; 13;35 Mark 9:50; Isiah 51:4; 60:3 

Discussion Questions:

  • Consider the following to stimulate your thinking and action. How can we encourage and, “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”?
  • How does being salt and light to those around us relate to being created in the image of God? (Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 8:1-6)
  • Think about someone you know who is reflecting Jesus in their life. What do they do that makes following Jesus attractive (tasteful) and clear (light) to others?
  • For salt to have impact it needs to penetrate and touch the senses. How do you want to be used by God to communicate the message of redemption?
  • As you consider your lifestyle, what growth or changes do you think would help you become the light of Jesus and bring about God’s Kingdom in the Valley as it is in heaven?
  • Ask one or two people to pray with you that your life would be salt and light to your life contacts. It will be exciting to see people wanting to know more about your Savior because of your life!

Elementary Focus:

Title:  Shine Bright

Bottom Line:  We are to shine bright, so others can see God!

Verse:  “In the same way, you should be a light for other people.  Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 NCV

Meal Time: Pick an item of food that you normally add salt to season.  Set some aside without salt and then prepare the rest seasoned as you normally do.  Have your kids taste and compare the difference.  Talk about how salt brings out the flavor in food.  Read Matthew 5:13.  We can show God’s love to others by being “salt of the earth” because we have Jesus in us.   How can we tell others about Jesus?

Bed Time: Turn off the lights and grab a flashlight.  Shine it on various items in the room that are difficult to see when it’s dark.   Talk about how the light shines and shows us things that normally are hidden by the dark.  Read Matthew 5:16.  Talk about how we can be light for other people so that they will see God.

Preschool Focus:

Passage:  Matthew 5:13-20; Jesus wants me to follow Him by telling others about Him.

Bed Time:  Turn off the lights and grab a flashlight.  Shine it on various items in the room that are difficult to see when it’s dark.   Talk about how the light shines and shows us where to go. Talk about how we can be light for other people so that they will see God and know how to follow Him.