If the local church you attend shut its doors, would anyone notice? Would the families that live on the roads near your building notice? How long would it take before businesses nearby recognized your building was empty? If you were to move out of your current neighborhood, if you were to quit your job, if you were to switch schools, would anyone notice? How long would it take before your neighbors recognized you were gone? How many days would pass before your co-workers recognized a difference at the office? As a Christian, are you visible?
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 hid. 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. (Matthew 5:13-16)
The Sermon on the Mount begins with a focus on calling Christians into the cruciform life. The beatitudes help to show that self-sacrifice, grace for others, and submission are the ways of the Kingdom. Being willing to die for the sake of others is the way of the Kingdom. This is a counter cultural message that can get lost in a culture focused on power, might, and getting ahead. Christians who follow the way of the cross seem destined to becoming an after thought in the pages of the world. But Jesus encourages disciples by reminding them that their calling is not only counter cultural, it is vital for the world to have flavor and vision.
We are the salt of the earth. We are the highest good that the earth possesses.The earth cannot survive without disciples.Just as meat would rot and go bad without salt to both flavor and sustain it, the earth will rot and go bad without disciples to sustain it. Even while the greater society is pushing Christians aside and saying you disciples don’t matter, Christianity is done, the world has moved on, Christians don’t cease to be important. Even while we as disciples are being pushed to the margins, the irony is that the very ones the world is pushing to the side are the very ones that the world needs to survive, to carry on, and to accomplish good.
You are the salt of the earth. Jesus didn’t say you can become the salt of the earth, you must be the salt of the earth, or you proclaim the salt of the earth,Jesus says you are the salt of the earth.This truth is inherent in the call of discipleship.Disciples are the salt of the earth.Disciples have been placed on the earth as image bearers of God to take God’s image into all times and places. Disciples must come to fully understand their role as image bearers and view themselves first and foremost as God’s representatives in the world.Our task is to image God. Our mission is to image God and take God everywhere we go. We are salt as we image God in our homes, our jobs, our schools, and our communities. We are the visible representation of God to those we meet.
We are the city on a hill. No one takes a lamp and places it under a bowl. It does no good under a bowl, it becomes worthless. To be effective, a lamp is placed on a stand so that it gives light to the entire room. As Christians, we must be visible; we must shine for the world. It’s great to get together with other Christians on Sunday mornings, to Gather together and encourage each other because life is hard. But our calling is more than just to retreat out of the world from time to time to be refreshed. Our calling is to go into all the world and be light, to be visible, to be a city on a hill.
The beatitudes remind us that our call as disciples is to a life of cruciformity. We mourn our own sins, we extend mercy, we create peace because in doing so we model the reconciling love of Jesus. But we practice these traits not so that we can have a personal relationship with Jesus. We live them out so that we can be salt and light so that the world will see there is a different way to live. We visibly live out these traits to the world as a witness to the reign and rule of God in our lives. We are called to be visible disciples, making a difference in the world so that the world will see Jesus.