‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
This is my go-to passage for reconnecting with the heart of our calling as followers of Jesus. Jesus declares that we ARE the salt of the earth, the light of the world – not that we have to try to turn ourselves into these things. Eugene Peterson paraphrases these words of Jesus as ‘Let me tell you why you are here… [to] bring out the God-flavours… [to] bring out the God-colours in the world’.
The Spirit of God is already at work in the world, and God’s glory covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. Our calling is to taste and see this and enable others to do so too. We can fine-tune our spiritual taste buds and de-distort our spiritual vision so that we can ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ – and then share that experience of living in a world soaked in the wonder-filled presence of God.
Jesus also tells us where and how to do this – God has already placed us on ‘the lampstand’ – somewhere that can give light to an environment. All we have to do is shine – where we are!
Jesus is not abolishing the law, but fulfilling it. Elsewhere he sums up the whole law as loving God with all our heart, mind and strength, and loving our neighbour as ourselves. So we taste and see more clearly as we grow in love – love for God and love for others. In the parables Jesus does not depict scribes and Pharisees as full of love for God or for their neighbours (the tax-collector in the Temple, the man attacked on the road to Jericho). Rather Jesus says that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who become like children. So embrace your inner child, wonder again at the God-flavours and God-colours you encounter in your daily life and invite others into this love-soaked life.
Jesus – thank you for calling us into your kingdom of love. Help us to shine as a light in the world – bringing out the vibrant God-colours of your creation. Help us to live as salt in our daily lives – bringing out the fulsome God-flavours through loving our neighbours. May people see through us, your children, to you and give glory to God. Amen.
Dr Sam Richards, serving as Head of Children’s and Youth Work, member of Messy Church team, Chalgrove.