Salt and Light

by Jeremy Singer

For most of my life, I’ve had the tendency to get sucked into the achievement culture that is so prevalent in today’s world; honestly, it’s hard not to do. You don’t have to look too hard to see messages that tell you perfection is the standard and even the perception of failure is unacceptable. Not only does this mindset give us a false sense of identity, but it can also cause us to overlook some exceptional claims that are in the Bible about us. Take Matthew 5:13-16 for example:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, 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 who is in heaven.”

If you have the same tendency that I do, you read this text and your mind goes down a rabbit trail of thoughts that go something like this, “Shoot, I’m not as salty as I should be, and I have definitely hidden my light under a basket”.  Now, I’m not saying that a realization of our fallen nature is a bad thing. However, if we want to make continued progress in our faith journeys, I think we must understand our relationship with God and how he sees us.

One of the unique things we see through scripture is how God tends to name people by what they’ll be long before they actually are. For example, God takes a 75-year-old man with no children, Abram, and gives him the name Abraham meaning father of many nations. Even after his name change, Abraham would wait another 25 years before receiving the child he was promised.

So, what’s going on here? God sees in us what we cannot see ourselves. Circling back Matthew 5 we can see that God says we are salt and we are the light of the world. Just like Abraham, we’ve been given a name by God that only he can truly fulfill in us.

What does this mean, then? I’d like to make the case that, in light of how God sees us, we can read this text and find encouragement instead of discouragement. Instead of focusing on our lack of saltiness or our dim light we get to celebrate in the work of God in our lives. Then, as we strive to be Christ’s ambassadors on this earth, it can be from a place of grace instead of shame.