How does the church function in today’s world? A world in which, I think we can all agree, the moral landscape is changing at a rapid rate.
What does the church say?
What does the church do?
To answer these questions – we will look at a single passage for the next three weeks. We will dig down deep and my prayer is that we will come up with something of significance.
Disciples are to be salt and light.
Salt was used for a number of things in Ancient Near East. No need to get bogged down in details this morning. What we really need to know: salt serves purpose. What do you do when salt can no longer serve its purpose? When it loses it saltiness? It is useless. It is no longer good for anything. You might as well chunk it out of the window. If people walk on it? No problem. For the salt is useless.
Jesus then turns his attention to light. Light serves a purpose as well. Do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl? I hope not. Because that would be silly. It would defeat the purpose of lighting the lamp. If a light does not shine – it is worthless.
Jesus now builds to a powerful point. He turns his attention to disciples. Disciples are to be on mission. The mission (look at verse 16): To influence others so that more and more may glorify our Father in heaven.
What if a disciple doesn’t do this? Following the train of thought of this passage – they are useless, worthless. Like salt that needs to be thrown out the window. Like a lamp under a bowl.
How are disciples to go about the mission of leading others to glorify God? Perhaps a widely circulated quote offers us something to discuss. I’ve heard it in casual conversation. I’ve seen it posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. – Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
I’m not the first to make this point – but words are necessary. The quote emphasizes that disciples must walk the walk. It argues for authentic Christian living rather than hypocrisy. I’m in favor of authentic Christian living. Yet, I’m making the argument that we must also talk the talk. We must never deemphasize the verbal proclamation of the gospel.
Jewish people have good deeds. Muslims have good deeds. Non-believers have good deeds. PTO members have good deeds. Lions club members have good deeds.
What makes the church different than other do gooders? We preach the unique message of Jesus. Talking the talk is necessary. Preaching the gospel with words is necessary.
Let us not sin by silence.