Of all the metaphors Jesus could have chosen to describe us, salt and light are about as simple as it gets. However, this type of simplicity was common for him. Parables and metaphors were his most preferred communication style, often tying his hearers in knots. Especially those whose reason for listening was to catch him on some theological error as they attempted to apply what he was saying to their knowledge of scriptures. Applying their minds to understand rather than listening with their spirit. While engaging your mind to understand is not necessarily a bad thing, doing so to the exclusion of your spirit is a great way to frustration with Jesus. Even a cursory read of the gospels will leave the impression how unimpressed he was with the greatest theological minds of his day. Hence the constant use of simple metaphors like salt and light. Revelation and frustration at the same time. Welcome to following Jesus.
In choosing to describe us with simple metaphors like salt and light, perhaps Jesus was sending a deeper message. Is it possible that life is much simpler than we believe? As humans, do we make things more complex than they need to be? May we have ears to hear. Take the time to let this sink in.
Let’s first consider light:
- Light just is. It doesn’t struggle to exist or find its place. It is simply present.
- Light does not struggle to cast out darkness. When light is present, darkness cannot exist.
- Light must be intentionally covered to eliminate it and create darkness. Examples are turning off a light switch, causing a shadow with another object (umbrella, curtains, clouds, etc.). Coverings eliminate light and either block or diffuse it.
- The driving force enabling photosynthesis, one of the key building blocks of life, is light. Without it, plants don’t grow and no living creature eats. (Remember meat eaters consume plant eaters.)
- Light does not need a hierarchy or organized structure to make an impact. A single light is powerful.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16
And then salt:
- Salt enhances the flavour of whatever food it touches.
- Salt is a natural preservative. Before refrigeration was invented, salt was used to preserve meat.
- In cold environments, salt melts ice.
- Salt is one of the most plentiful substances on earth. It doesn’t need to be created or manufactured but simply found.
- Flavourless salt retains its structure as a small, crystallized object. It can still provide traction for others to walk on.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matt 5:13Perhaps one of more of these salt and light statements triggered something in you (in a good, politically correct way of course). Go back, reread the statements that triggered deeper revelation in your spirit. Now ask yourself some questions:
Was the direction of Jesus life and teaching toward simplicity or complexity?
Were Jesus greatest opponents part of organized structures or were they independent radicals?
What impact did Jesus have on institutions of all kinds?
Who was most liberated and empowered after encountering Jesus?
Did the people fully understand who Jesus was and have their theology straight when he called them salt and light?
How would your life’s daily routine change by embracing simplicity?
While these concepts are a daily struggle for all of us, something significant happens when we truly believe that our presence alone dispels darkness, reveals truth, enhances flavour and preserves others. We don’t need organization, structure, covering or permission from another human being to cause this to happen. As he said, we already have all of this and more from the only One that matters.
You are salt and light. Take that in and let it out.