Archive for October, 2012

“Salty and Bright?”

(audio coming soon)

 ‘“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how [a]can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a [b]hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a [c]basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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.”

Matthew 5:13-16

Introduction: are you a person of INFLUENCE?

  • We all have influence over others in our daily lives, and others often influence us as well. What kind of an influence are you?

Proposition: In Matthew 5:13-16 we discover how we fulfill our responsibility to the world.

I. By being SALT to the world. (v. 13)

  • Salt has several effects:
    1. In Jesus’ time salt was used to preserve meat: after having salt rubbed into it the meat (i.e. the world) will continue to decay, but through our Christian example we can slow the decaying process. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
    2. It creates thirst: As Christians, our life should create a thirst for something more, a thirst for a relationship with Christ. Nonbelievers should look at us and say “wow, I want what that person has.”
    3. Adds Flavor to dull foods: As Christians we should add “divine flavor” to an otherwise dead and lifeless world.
    4. Used to clean wounds: our saltiness should sting others when they see us doing good. It should prick their conscience and move them toward good works and repentance. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
    5. A useful article I found: http://www.struggler.org/Salt.html

A. A VALUED commodity that is also useful.

    • Salt was an exceptionally useful and valued commodity in Jesus’ time. It was used primarily as a preservative for food and was so highly valued that Roman soldiers were sometimes even paid in salt. (This is where we get the phrase “Not worth his salt.”) In fact, the same root word that we get our word salary from is the same root for salt. There was a saying at that time that only the sun was more valuable!
    • WE are a valuable commodity to God! We can be used greatly to further His kingdom and bring glory to His name. He has a plan for each of us, and a specific location that he has placed us in, with something he has called us to do. (See 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4)

B. We must MAINTAIN our saltiness.

  • In our day, salt does not lose its saltiness; however, in Biblical times their salt contained many impurities and could in fact become un-salty. When this happened it was no longer useful for its original purpose, but could still be used to spread over walkways to make paths less slippery.
  • “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” If you have failed in your mission to be salt to the world, don’t worry, you can be useful for trampling!
    • There is also a metaphor in the fact that their salt had impurities that would cause it to decay: if we allow impure things to sneak into our lives it will cause us to lose our saltiness. Ephesians 5:3-5 tells us: “But immorality [c]or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among [d]saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no [e]immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Read the verses in context.)
    • We must use our saltiness to “season” our unsaved friends. We should not be seeking intimate fellowship with nonbelievers (that’s what Christian friends are for) but we should influence them positively. When we begin to be influenced by them and by their actions, we are not being effective witnesses for Christ.

II. By letting our light SHINE in the world. (vs. 14-16)

    • Light has always been a symbol of truth, purity, and the divine presence. In artwork divine characters are often presented with a halo of light, and a ray of light might serve to illuminate a pure character or an important moment.
    • Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16 (context).

A. Fulfilling our PURPOSE. (vs. 14, 16)

  • What is the purpose of light? In Biblical times candle light would have been their only light source. The light of a fire or candle had two main purposes:
      1. To dispel darkness: Consider this passage. Really READ it, and don’t just gloss over it. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them;  for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 [f]trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even [g]expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are [h]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians 5:6-14
      2. To create heat: Revelation 3:16 is the famous passage about being lukewarm. As Christians we should be HOT for God, and we should spread that warmth to all who step within the rays of the light we shine.

B. We must remain VISIBLE. (vs. 14-16)

    • We must be bold and speak up for our beliefs, and not hide our light. We must speak up against injustices, strive to right wrongs, and refuse to participate in activities that go against the call of Christ. (Things your friends will tell you “aren’t that bad.”) (See 2 Corinthians 3 and Acts 4:31)
  • Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
    • People around us should literally SEE a difference in our lives! The Good Word without good works is useless. (James 2:20)
    • “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)
    • “You are the light of the world. A city set on a [b]hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt 5:14). In Biblical times the cities would often be built of limestone, which would reflect the lights of the city against the walls. How brilliant and beautiful that must have looked! The city would have been very visible, even from a distance, and so should we be.

C. So that God is GLORIFIED. (vs. 16)

    • “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
    • 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    • Philippians 1:9-11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may [g]approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless [h]until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
    • Often the divine moment in our life that affects others for God’s glory might be disproportionate to what we perceive the moment to be.

Conclusion: Don’t miss the divine OPPORTUNITIES to influence others for HIS glory!

Thoughts to Consider:

  1. 1.       Am I giving a visible example to my non-Christian friends and associates?
  2. 2.       Are any of my activities, hobbies, interests, or things I find amusing a negative example? Do some of my actions reflect poorly on Christ and His image and His church?
  3. 3.       Are there any impurities in my life that might be causing me to start to lose my saltiness?
  4. 4.       What is one thing I can start to change this week to become a better light to the world and salt to the earth?

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I am really quite irritated at the state of the literature directed at youth these days. I was reading a book entitled Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, and thoroughly enjoying it. My sister “Ace” had recommended it to me, and I was glad to be able to share in something that she enjoyed and to talk with her about it. I often recommend books to her, and it was nice that she was excited about a book, like she hasn’t been in a long while.

In this story some of the characters have what are referred to as “graces”; a grace is a special skill that the person has which manifests itself in childhood, and a graced child is indicated by having eyes that differ in color from each other. Sometimes it makes itself known when the child is a few months old, sometimes older, but no one can tell what the grace is until the child discovers their special skill. Some are skilled with numbers, or cooking, others with fighting or sometimes something fairly useless like climbing trees; these skills are developed over time and require a person to learn to master them. Some of the main characters in this story are graced, and the story follows the path of the heroine, Katsa, as she struggles to form her identity and figure out who she is and how her grace defines her life (she is graced with fighting). The struggle to control her anger, to trust, to be independent, and to find herself, all are enthralling and something that youth can identify with these days. The female lead is a strong character, far more so than the male cast, and sometimes I fear that the men in the story may be too ideal, too soft to be real. (This is how the world is becoming, strong women, weak men…)

I was reading along, enjoying the story when it happened: BAM! sex scene. For much of that chapter, Katsa deals with the newness of feelings for this character, struggles to reconcile what life would be like as a wife bound to one man who had her abilities and disposition (she had vowed never to marry or have children). He says something to her to the effect of “I’ll give myself to you in whatever way you’ll take me”, meaning: even if you don’t want to marry me, I would still be your lover. She grapples with what it would mean to commit to a marriage relationship when her future is so uncertain; marriage is forever. How would she feel if she were to be tethered to a man, as she had been to the king? (Of course I’d say love is it’s own beautiful tether and not true bondage…) All this she reasons through, and then one day while sparring together they get a little too physical and  end up having sex. The book is not too graphic (comparatively) but it does talk about them making out, necking, taking off each others’ clothing…it talks about how it hurt her, and how she bled, and even refers to his speed and him contemplating whether he should slow down or not.

I have several issues with this:

1. What the heck is a sex scene doing in a children’s book?!?! Do little girls need to envision the wonder of sex and the pain and exhilaration of it at age 10 or 12? Should a little girl be exposed to these things that will cause her to burn with the desire to know and be known? Do little boys barely through puberty need to start down the path toward lust? I’m sure they’ll both get there in their own time, but does it need to be encouraged?  In a world where sex is cheap, women are valuable only for their bodies, and men are allowed to satisfy their urges however they choose, I would say no. The book continues to make sexual references: “If places other than my toes are cold would you warm them too?”, and other comments about him touching her inappropriately.

2. Do we really want our children to start reasoning that commitment is bad because we don’t know the future? Using that reasoning we could get out of anything…work, school, marriage, and then we will be morally and emotionally bankrupt because we cannot have the patience or the discipline to stick with a decision that might be long-term. Sometimes we have to take a step of faith with a person: “No, I don’t know the future, but I know you, and I trust you. I feel safe committing to you, even if the future is uncertain.”

3. The character gave in way too easily, and now this scene has colored the entire remainder of the book and the characters themselves. It makes love look cheap, and patience no longer a virtue. It glorifies giving in to one’s primal desires for mere pleasure and because they felt compelled to do it. (She also eats a “morning after” type of plant.) When she was struggling with the new concept of being in love, of whether she wanted children, of whether she wanted to be “bound” to one man, did she ever consider the emotional ties that would be created? The scandal of if he (who is a noble) ever married? What would happen if she did get pregnant? Completely selfish.
All this is to say, a perfectly good book was practically ruined for me.

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