KINGDOM CITIZENS SHOULD HAVE A POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD
- TO COUNTERACT DECAY BY STANDING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS … AND
- TO SHINE THE TORCH OF TRUTH AND LIFE TO THE DARKNESS AROUND US
OUT OF A MOTIVATION TO BRING GLORY TO GOD
Show and Tell today — hand out O-rings … examine them … not very expensive … very common … doesn’t seem very significant … we use these a lot in repairing the big Caterpillar machines at my work … put it on your finger and listen while I tell you a story about a very famous O-ring
On January 28, 1986 America was shocked by the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, and the death of its seven crew members. One of those who died that day was a female schoolteacher — privileged to be selected as the first civilian in NASA history to “ride the rocket” into the last frontier. It was to be the Challenger’s 10th mission — we had come to take for granted the safety of these missions.
The temperature that day at ground level at Pad 39B was 36 degrees F, that was 15 degrees cooler than any other previous launch by NASA. The boosters started rumbling according to play. But 0.68 seconds after ignition black smoke started coming from the bottom right booster. Apparently the burning of one of the O-rings in the booster caused the smoke. That’s why I gave you each an O-ring so you could get an ideal of what we’re talking about. O-rings are rubber “rings” that are used to make airtight seals. If one of the O-rings breaks air can get in and gas can get out — a very combustible combination — and one that proved tragic in this instance. A terrible explosion just seconds after liftoff and the impact was not only felt but actually seen around the world on the TV broadcast.
What people had trouble coming to grips with was how could such a small and seemingly insignificant component — a tiny O-ring — cause such a huge catastrophe?
If you are at all like me, you wrestle at times with feelings of being insignificant …. not talking about the kids … you guys know you are significant … we parents make it a point to tell you that all the time … but sometimes as adults we forget that. It’s a huge world out there and we often ask: What can little old me accomplish for the Lord? What’s my mission? Why doesn’t Christ just come back and kickoff the big celebration? What am I doing here?
CONTEXT / REVIEW:
Christ certainly knew His Mission — Matt. 4:23-25;
Matt. 9:35 — teaching / preaching / healing
Remember the Beatitudes that we studied last week in Matthew Chapter 5 from the Sermon on the Mount. As members of the kingdom we should be progressing in a number of key character areas …as we pursue the blessedness that is associated with conformity to the righteousness of God. We learned what type of people we have been called to be.
Finished with the reality of persecution.
Today we are going to look at the very simple instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples to help them focus on their true mission — This is how we are going to find significance in our life here on earth — What have we been called to do?
Pastor Brian knew this was a good passage to give to me … You see I love to dig into a passage and come up with an outline that really helps to explain the flow of thought in the text. I will look at the tiniest details by making grammatical diagrams in the Greek and then try to put the passage back together by capturing what I call the Big Idea of the paragraph. I worked long hours on this and here is what I have come up with … see what you think:
2 major points:
1) You are the Salt of the earth
2) You are the Light of the world
Kids, what do you think? Pretty impressive, eh? You’re going to be able to follow me just fine … we are going to talk about Salt and Light — 2 very simple pictures — nothing very fancy here (hold up objects)
- Significance of the Metaphor — Why did Christ pick these 2 simple phenomena
- Underlying Assumption: Why is the world in such desperate need of salt or light
- Try to come to grips with our Mission as Salt or Light — What are the implications for us
- Look at the Pathway to Ineffectiveness — what would negate the type of powerful impact
we are supposed to have on the world
I. (:13) SALT — THE INDWELLING HOLY SPIRIT WORKS THRU BELIEVERS TO COUNTERACT THE DECAY AND ROTTENNESS IN THE WORLD AS WE TAKE A STAND FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless,
how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore,
except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
A. SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS METAPHOR OF SALT
Must first understand how salt was used at the time of Christ …
In our contemporary society, we may miss the real value of salt. Many ancient societies understood
the value of salt far better than we. The Romans believed, for instance, that salt was very valuable.
Sometimes Roman soldiers even received their pay in salt. How would you like that … Go home be warmed and filled! Some have said that it was from this practice that the phrase “not worth his salt” originated.
Primarily in the days before refrigerators, salt was rubbed on to the meat to keep it from going bad so quickly; it was a preservative … cf. the American Indians and the early settlers with their practice of salting the meat to preserve it
This seems to be the main emphasis in this passage; the fact that salt also is used to enhance the taste seems to be suggested by vs 13 “tasteless” … but the context seems to argue more for a rendering of:
if the salt has lost its distinctive essence …
Interesting word: “moronized” — we get the word moron; I don’t think Jesus is talking about believers giving the world some pizzaz; although by virtue of counteracting the process of decay we do make the world a more palatable place — both for ourselves and for others — bringing out the true meaning of life
B. UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION: Apart from the impact of believers as salt and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in restraining sin, the world would be much more ROTTEN.
How rotten would it be? lots of examples where God sets something good in motion and man
wrecks it with a downward spiral of increasing wickedness
1) Look at the Fall — God saw all that He had made and behold it was very
good … Until man chose to disobey and go his own way .. Happened very quickly!
What type of offspring did Adam and Eve raise? the kind where brother murders brother!
Doctrine of Total Depravity … Sin Nature .. Man incapable on his own
of even responding to God; dead in his trespasses and sins apart from
God’s redeeming grace
2) Look at the Days of Noah — Gen 6: 5, 11-12
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the eath, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.. . Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth”
Noah = a good example of trying to function as Salt and Light in his culture;
called a preacher of righteousness (good example of putting the Sermon on
the Mount into practice)
3) Look at the Days of Sodom and Gomorrah — Gen. 18
God couldn’t find 10 righteous people there; He was merciful to hustle Lot out before bringing judgment; his wife was so attached to the world, so compromised, she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt
4) Look at the nation of Israel — Removal of the Shekinah Glory from the
Temple — Ezekiel 10-11; all that God had done to plant the nation, cultivate it, look for
it to produce good fruit … What was the output??
5) Look at Romans 1 — the account of progressive wickedness
how does that play out in the Roman Empire; what about in the United States?
6) Look at the description of the Last Days in 2 Pet. 2
7) Look at the description of the Tribulation Period in the Book of Rev. — what happens when
all the believers are removed at the Rapture and God starts over with the 3 Witnesses?
picture of Babylon in Rev. 18:2-3
What is the consistent thread as we look at these different time periods throughout the history of man? Man’s natural depravity has a tendency to cycle downward in spirals of increasing wickedness … no matter how good things were at the beginning …
Not to say that there cannot be revivals for a period of time … but when you look at the overall trend…
Does that mean I am a pessimist when it comes to what kind of impact can we expect the gospel to have on the world?? I would say that I am a realist ..
I am certainly not of the postmill camp that see the kingdom gradually taking over the world and things improving until we reach some type of millennial fulfillment of the OT promises and then Christ returns ….
Look at our culture today? How rotten has it become … just in our lifetime ….
and all of this is with the presence of some measure of salt … let’s look at our Mission as the salt of the earth
C. COMING TO GRIPS WITH OUR MISSION AS BELIEVERS – THOSE INDWELT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT — TO BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH
“You are the salt of the earth“
Why do I throw in the ministry of the Holy Spirit here? Not mentioned in the text in Matt 5 …
It is primarily the Holy Spirit that performs this ministry of restraining evil; of sanctifying and purifying;
- 1 Cor. 7:14 — very interesting passage
1. Salt has no impact unless it touches the meat — Called to be Radically Associated with Unbelievers
what type of contact do we have with non-Christians? with our culture?
Christ came and spent quality time building into the lives of His disciples;
general teaching time reaching out to the multitudes; and personal outreach
by rubbing shoulders directly with the publicans and sinners to the extent that the
Separatist Pharisees blasted Him for it
2. book title: Out of the Saltshaker & into the World
If salt just hangs around all day with salt, it will not fulfill its intended function;
O-rings in the box are worthless … they have to be applied to where a seal is needed
Where does my life touch non-Christians? What type of an impact am I having there?
3. quote from book — p.124 — John Stott — rabbit hole Christianity
Probably more of us need to change our approach in this area than any other ….
Our schedules are structured around doing things with other believers …
We know that … but are we committed to changing that??
As we head this direction we must remember a second key implication:
4. Salt has no impact unless it retains its distinctive essence — Called to be Radically Different from the World
As Christians, do we stand out as different from the world?
emphasis on the ministry of the HOLY Spirit
Some Christians wrestle much more in this area … they have plenty of contact with
unbelievers … but they have become worldly so there is no distinction
Look at the music artists who try to appeal to the more popular crowd …
What kind of testimony do you end up with??
Do we laugh at the same jokes? some uncomfortable moments at work
Do people change what types of jokes they will tell around you …
Do we use the same vocabulary as unclean vessels?
Oh pardon my French ….
do people change their vocabulary around you??
Problem: That’s what nonbelievers at work think a Christian is: someone who is not
allowed to laugh at dirty jokes and can’t use coarse language … we are giving the
wrong impression.. What about the heart attitudes of how we treat other people, how
we love others and are concerned for their well-being …
- What about mercy triumphing over judgement?
- What about having pure motives rather than a selfish agenda?
- What about pursuing the ministry of a peacemaker as a reconciler?
- What about a servant type heart as we help others?
- What about loving our neighbor as ourself?? something the Pharisees couldn’t stomach
It is much harder to bring this type of understanding home to those we are trying to reach for Christ
Do we watch the same TV shows with all of their sexual innuendos?
Do we have the same value system … the materialism of the world?
Are we friends of the world or friends of God?
Problem with some of the seeker church mentality: if it thinks that it can sneak an entrance into non-believers hearts by being as much like them as possible without crossing the line … and thus attract them (or trick them) into Christianity …
- so we present a service that differs very little from the style of entertainment the world finds attractive
- so we use a vocabulary that has been cleansed from any words that might offend the conscience or stir up conviction — no mention of sin, of hell, of God’s holiness and justice and righteousness
- so we present a very man-oriented type of message … more of a manual on how to be happy and fulfilled as a person … manology … rather than theology which presents truth from God’s perspective with a vision to glorifying God …
Where is the power there to counteract the decay and rottenness of the world??
2 Pet 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.”
Are we authentic? Are we the real thing? — We can only impact the world if we are yielded to the Holy Spirit
Consequences of being salt
3. Salt is not always welcomed with open arms — it carries a bit of a sting, a bite to it —
Called to be Radically Committed to Righteousness
speaking the truth in love … but there is something of a confrontational tone at times;
not just going with the flow; fitting in with the crowd
That is why the context speaks of persecution …
“all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”
4. Implications in terms of Political Activism here in the United States?
But Are we Called to Be Radically Immersed in Political Activism? Difficult Question …
Defining the arena … no question that our personal relationships with others are primarily in view …
But what about our responsibility to our larger community and overall culture?
I might not be the best one to respond here … always a danger of our perspective being distorted by our own sin or our own blind spots in certain areas … Not an easy question
Safe Question: What would Jesus do?
Certainly would not characterize Him as a political activist; however, our form of government is vastly different;
- the Moral Majority — even Dr. Jerry Falwell has tempered his approach and expectations in this area
- our family joking about “being on Alert” — many causes seek to cast a millstone of a guilt trip around your neck if you do not support their cause by doing X, Y, and Z
- Pietistic approach; almost isolated from the world you live in …not advocating that; not criticizing the efforts of those who feel called to such a political role;
However, not going to be intimidated into some type of legalistic response by way of obligation;
How does my Lord want me to function as salt in the context in which He has put me???
D. PATHWAY TO INEFFECTIVENESS = LOSING OUR DISTINCTIVENESS
conformity to the world around us– friendship with the world = enmity to God;
failure to develop biblical convictions or lack of backbone to stand by them;
unwillingness to expose wickedness for what it really is
“but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good
for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”
Do we want lives that are characterized as good for nothing … or lives that really have an impact for Christ?
Kids …. here’s an illustration you might be able to identify with:
A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.”
He said, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?”
She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”
While Peppermint Patty was seeking to pass the buck, she was in a very real sense right. We should be a good influence on our friends. We certainly do have an influence, for good or for bad.
Kids, remember our simple outline?? Salt and Light
II. (:14-15) LIGHT — THE INDWELLING PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST WORKS THRU BELIEVERS TO PROVIDE A BEACON OF LIGHT IN A CONTEXT OF DARKNESS IN THE WORLD
(AS WE SHINE THE TORCH OF TRUTH AND LIFE TO A WORLD LOST IN DARKNESS)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand;
and it gives light to all who are in the house.”
A. SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS METAPHOR OF LIGHT
Interesting that the Theme of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City = LIGHT THE FIRE WITHIN
Think about that … what is supposed to light that fire?? Inspiration ??? What does that mean??
All types of symbolism and imagery of light throughout the pageant ..
At least the world claims to place a value on Light and long for Light .. but of course they are trying to manufacture a false substitute apart from the True Light of the World
Coming from a belief in the inherent Goodness of Man (instead of Total Depravity)
Remember the claims of Christ — presented first by John the Baptist .. the one who came announcing the King; and then reiterated by Christ Himself
Luke 1:76-79 Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesying about his ministry of being the forerunner to Christ
“For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways … the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, toguide our feet into the way of peace.”
John chapter 1
“In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. He came for a witness, that he mgiht bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”
Remember John 8 — Jesus confronted the Pharisees with this same claim:
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
* * * * * * * * * *
One of my all-time favorite illustrations … you’ve probably heard it before … but humor me …
Think about the difficulty of navigating large ships out in the open seas and then bringing them safely into harbor in all types of nasty weather and conditions of poor visibility. It’s amazing that more ships don’t ram into one another or end up on the rocks …
In the darkest part of the night, a ship’s captain cautiously piloted his warship through the fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers lurking just out of sight.
Then His worst fears were realized when he saw a bright light straight ahead. It appeared to be a vessel on a collision course with his ship. Just then this American vessel he was piloting received a radio message from the Canadians he was about to crash into:
Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH. I SAY AGAIN, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
* * * * * * * * * *
Something about lighthouses that seem to appeal to everybody.
– They are perched up on some prominent precipice where they can have maximum utility ..
you don’t find any lighthouses hidden away in some cave or valley
– They are very simple in their mission — provide a beacon of light to those out in the darkness who
need that critical help for navigation and safety
1. all the Christian ministries that have sprung up around this theme … lighthouse ministries
How can we help others see Jesus??
Not many songs in the hymnal about salt; but plenty about light:
“The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the light of the world is Jesus;
Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in, The light of the world is Jesus.
Come to the Light, tis shining for thee; sweetly the light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind, but now I can see; The Light of the world is Jesus.”
(That’s our testimony and that’s the message we take to the dying world around us.)
“Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings“
(Hark, the Herald Angels Sing)
“Silent Night! Holy night! Son of God, Love’s pure light“
“Fair is the sunshine, Fairer still the moonlight, And all the twinkling starry host: Jesus shines
brighter, Jesus shines purer, Than all the angels heaven can boast.”
(Fairest Lord Jesus)
“Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing, Out of my life may Jesus shine”
Perhaps the most famous and the most appropriate … Kids, you all know this one:
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine …..
Hide it under a bushel, NO … I’m going to let it shine …”
B. UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION: Apart from believers, the world would be completely DARK
No light, No Life
- Ignorance … but the problem is primarily one of the heart, not of the mind
- Blindness .. Satan has blinded their minds so they are unable to see
- Lack of Direction — cf. Pharisees: “the blind leading the blind“
- Darkness associated with wickedness
John 3:19-21 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
do a word study of “darkness” — see what it is that Christ has delivered us from
“we have been delivered from the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13)
Our mission is to be light to the world. When the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the apostle Paul, he told him,
“I am sending you to [the Gentiles] to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:17-18).
Mike Eruzione — got to light the Olympic Torch; interviewed and just didn’t have the words to express how thrilled he was to participate.
We have been entrusted with the torch of the gospel; our very lives are to be the light that shines in the darkness and gives people an opportunity to see Jesus and be delivered as we have been
What a privilege!
C. COMING TO GRIPS WITH OUR MISSION AS BELIEVERS = THOSE INDWELT BY JESUS CHRIST — TO BE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“You are the light of the world“
Implications for us:
1) Light needs to make itself accessible to those who need it
Light should be easy to spot in the darkness; Christ expresses this by saying that a city on a hill
cannot be hidden.
One commentator noted: Hill cities in Palestine were impressive sites. They were built there because the cool sea breezes would act like an air conditioner in the arid climate, and also because a city on a hill was easiest to defend. It is hard to fight going up hill. The mark of Palestinian cities is that they are always in view. At night they glow in the distance. When we are the light of the world everyone will know it. We cannot reflect His light and remain obscure. We cannot hide His light. God does not call us into the secret service. Either secrecy will destroy the discipleship or discipleship will destroy the secrecy. We cannot live light filled lives in our society without standing out, without having people notice us. They may not like us; they may persecute us, but they will know we are there.
2) Light is not a respecter of persons
Not up to us to pick and choose who we think is a good candidate for the gospel; we can easily be influenced by our own prejudices; only reach out to those in our social, economic class; only speak to those who are like us; light is not that way; the beacon shines for all to see and respond to
3) Light needs to provide answers and direction
We use light so that we can see where we are going. As our lives shine forth with the righteousness of Christ, we need to be prepared to give an answer to those who want to know more about the source of this light and how it is associated with life and redemption from this world of darkness
We have been talking mostly about our:
- Individual implications of this mission of being the light of the world
- Apparently there are corporate implications for us as a church as well
“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden”
As a church, how is our light shining in the community around us?
D. PATHWAY TO INEFFECTIVENESS = HIDING OUR LIGHT
- overcome by the fear of men; fear of ridicule, of embarrassment, of persecution
- lack of compassion for the plight of the lost
- lack of passion to be a true follower of Christ and Fisher of men
“Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the
lampstand; and it give light to all who are in the house.”
attitude expressed by the book: I’m Glad You Asked
(:16) CONCLUSION: OUR MOTIVATION = THAT OTHERS MAY GLORIFY GOD ALSO
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good
works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus has much to say in the Sermon on the Mount about our heart motivation. Remember, the Pharisees majored on the externals of the law … Christ countered with:
“Blessed are the pure in heart” …. not the whitewashed sepulchres who were still rotten on the inside
key = our good works; not our words
Easy for us to come across as self-righteous … like the Pharisees … conclusion of those watching our life … he’s really a good person … he definitely deserves to go to heaven if anyone does …
Or: he sure thinks highly of himself … We want them to see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven … Quite a challenge … Quite an opportunity
Remember our little O-ring that we started off talking about? Proved to be very significant in the case of the Challenger launch. It would be a tragedy if we turned out to be good for nothing and lost our distinctiveness as members in the family of God; or if we hid our light under a bushel basket;
We shouldn’t have any issues regarding our significance ..
We have been called to be Salt and Light to a world that is rotten and dark;
- Not being asked to do something unnatural or impossible .. but act in a way that is totally
consistent with out new nature;
- We have within us the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit … the life of Christ;
What a privilege to reach out to the world around us and impact that world for Jesus Christ, for the gospel, and for the kingdom of God.