“The Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth”
a sermon based upon Matthew 5:13-16
In today’s reading from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses two “metaphors” to express the function his followers will have in the world if they live according to God’s values: He says we are “Light” and “Salt”.
To live with Jesus’ values foremost in our minds (such as the Beatitudes we spoke about last Sunday) -- values which are often a direct contrast to the normal ways of the world! -- Jesus says: we will serve as salt and light within our society.
Now, everybody can figure out the significance of light! I mean, life itself relies on light. It’s so visible! The alternative… constant darkness and shadow, gloom & chill, inevitably starts to give a person “cabin fever.” This is, after all, the second week in February… in the deep mid-winter!
I think we human animals (almost like plants) have a sort of photo-synthesis in our blood, too; or at least we’re partly solar-powered! I think that’s why so many Alpena church folks go South to Florida or out West to Arizona for the winter (leaving us with several empty pews)! More than we want to admit, a lot of us are sun-worshipers who like to be warm & tan.
The point is, as regards Jesus’ metaphor of light: we all know what’s right with light! It’s an illuminating image for the in-dwelling spirit of God. Light is radiant. How affirming it must have been when Jesus said to that crowd of ordinary folks who had come out to a hillside in the Galilee to hear him teach, “You are the light of the world!”… You are!
It’s a memorable phrase from the Sermon on the Mount. “You are the light of the world.” 25-30 years later, the Apostle Paul, writing to the newly-formed Christian Church in Ephesus, put it this way:
“Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light; for the fruit of light is found in all
that is good and right and true. … Take no part in the unfruitful
works of darkness, but instead expose them. … When anything
is exposed by the light, it becomes visible! For anything that
becomes visible is light.” (Ephesians 5:8-13) Exposed by light.
Made visible by light.
The difference between darkness and light is a profound metaphor used frequently in the Bible -- from its very opening scene, in fact. (!) Back in Genesis, before the beginning of time, into that void of darkness & chaos, God said: “Let there be light!” (Gen. 1:3), and there was a “Big Bang” of light-energy (E=mc2) and the evolution of life into the marvel-ously amazing reality that we now enjoy, was off and running. Hallelujah! Thank God! Light brings life, and it’s all a gift from God, our Creator.