Have you ever wondered what it means to be living as salt and light in a military context? In this week’s Monday Minute, Brenda breaks it down for us as we continue our discussion on growing together to spread the Gospel.
Living as Salt and Light
by Brenda Pace
“Shhhh! They will hear us.”
I uttered those words to my husband and children in the midst of an argument or anything above normal conversation. My wise husband finally looked at me and said, “They need to hear us. They need to know we struggle. They need to know we aren’t perfect.”
We had just moved to our first duty station, Ft.
Beginning Benning, Georgia. Our house on Madden Avenue was called a White Elephant and I loved everything about the history held in its walls. The house was divided into quarters and we lived in one of the upper sections with another family below and beside.
I had never lived in such close vicinity to others. We shared front and back yards and a basement laundry room with the family on the first floor. I was determined my family would be on our best behavior. We were going to live out our Christian witness. Friends, that might as well have been code for, “We had to be perfect.” I shudder to think of the pressure I put on my family during that first year of military life.
Salt and Light
“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, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
The words of Jesus to his followers were about their mission in the world. As disciples on mission for Christ, Jesus didn’t call them to be perfect, but to influence society for good. Just as salt is used to preserve and enhance the flavor of food, they were to preserve the good flavor of truth and righteousness in a decaying world. Just as light illuminates the darkness, they were to show how Christ transformed their dark lives.
So, with us. We are to be a presence that brings the flavor and light of Christ to the world.
We do this with both words and actions. We must speak the truth of the Gospel for people to know it, but we also must live the truth of the Gospel for people to see it is real (NIV Application Commentary on Matthew, p. 225).
The people listening to Jesus would have recognized salt and light as critical elements to their daily lives. Without refrigeration, salt was the main preservative for their food. Without electric lights, the setting of the sun meant using precious fuel to illuminate the dark of night. The message of Jesus to his followers was that their presence in the world was as critical to connecting people to his kingdom as salt and light were to their existence.
Sister, your presence is critical to the place God has you. Christ calls us to show up in our places of influence and be salt and light in those places. Military life offers built in opportunities to show up for others. Promotions, changes of command, hail and farewells, unit coffees, and other military sponsored events are places where your very presence can make a difference. Let others get close enough for them to see Jesus in you. Jesus showed up for us. One of his names is Emmanuel which means God with us.
Thankfully, instead of trying to be perfect, in time I eased up and learned to be real. I finally got the memo that the best way our family could witness to our neighbors and our military community was to be real people who loved Jesus. Real people who trusted him in difficult times. Real people who sometimes didn’t know what to do with their kids, who got angry and frustrated with each other, who struggled with military op-tempo and mission priority. Real people who fell down, but got back up with forgiveness, grace, strength, and hope found in Christ. The world doesn’t want or need to see perfect people. They want and need to see people willing to be present with them, listen to them, and not offer pat answers or quick fixes, but evidence that Christ’s healing power is available to all.
Read: Read the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.
Reflect: How do these chapters provide instruction for living as salt and light in the world?
Respond: Where or with whom have you been negligent to show up? What can you do this week to show up for others?
Emmanuel, you who came to be God with us, be with me as I live and interact with others. Ground me in your truth and use me to bring your love, hope, and hospitality to my sphere of influence. Amen.