saalt light

Salt and Light

Bible Readings:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:1–12
  • Matthew 5:13–20)

Paul reminded the Corinthians that true wisdom comes not from the sinful world, but from Christ and his Spirit alone. He carefully explained that the gospel is a special kind of wisdom that can be discerned only by those who are spiritually mature. To be spiritually mature in faith and life, we would have to turn from human wisdom to the wisdom of the gospel. May we not place our trust in the world’s wisdom but in God’s wisdom as revealed in the Bible. 

Paul had come with weakness, fear, and trembling to Corinth. The weakness of which he spoke was probably his physical illness. Paul had suffered physical abuse because of his faith in Christ and had difficulties with his sight or other illnesses (2 Cor. 12 and Gal. 6). His human weakness made it evident that he had relied on the demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

Paul had focused his attention on the central message of Christ’s death. The crucifixion was the power of God for salvation. He came with the message of the cross, in human weakness and relying on the Spirit. Paul’s preaching had the support of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power in the Corinthians’ lives.

The power of the gospel brought through the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the foundation of the Christian faith. In church matters that do not challenge fundamental truth, we should remain humble and teachable, seeking wisdom and unity. Paul displays both boldness and humility, balancing his calling as an apostle with his knowledge that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for the entire church. The Spirit of God comes upon all who believe in Christ and reveals to them the mind of God. This insight can lead us to view the church with new eyes.

Christians cannot understand the wonder of all they have received from God by their natural eyes, but the Holy Spirit enables them to see the wonder of this gift as well as the wisdom that leads to it. No one knows the thoughts of God, however, the Spirit of God knows and can reveal the wisdom of God to us. We are part of the community because the Holy Spirit has been at work in our hearts, leading us to faith in Jesus. May we lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance in matters of wisdom.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus presents three images that are salt, light, and a city on a hill. It was to help listeners understand their relationship with God and what it means to live according to the ways of God’s reign. God’s reign is not only a future promise; it also is a present reality. When we live in God’s ways, we participate in His reign. Salt and light are metaphors used in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe covenant and law.

Jesus teaches his followers that they are to be like salt and light. Salt cleanses, preserves, and adds flavour, and light reveals what is hidden and enables all to see. Both influence on the exercise of mission and ministry. To say that we are to be the salt of the earth implies that we are to bring some flavour to our relationships with each other. 

Salt can be used as a preservative, keeping food fresh for an extended period. It is also used to stimulate thirst. God gives light to everyone in the house through us. House means the word for the established world which is a big house here. In verse 16, Jesus continued to say, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Jesus tells his followers that they are the light of the world and that this light should not be hidden but seen. Our light shines before others, not so we may be applauded, but that our words and deeds may lead others to give thanks and praise to God. 

Jesus affirms individuals and communities and challenges their behaviours at the same time. The challenge for change is the saltiness that keeps the moment alive to grow, both spiritually and personally. Jesus accepted the rich young man but challenged him to give away his possessions. He accepted the woman caught in adultery, and then instructed her to sin no more. Jesus calls us to live righteous lives and to show justice and mercy to all. The righteousness of Jesus’ followers must impact their world as salt and light. 

Many people have a habit of seeing other’s darkness rather than looking at the darkness within themselves. We need to look at the darkness within ourselves to shine the light of Christ even though this is never easy. There is darkness in life – external and internal. Parker Palmer refers to this process as looking or reading our inner landscape. We cannot bring the light of Christ to others if we are unaware of where that light needs to shine in our own hearts.

Jesus encourages his followers to bring light to a dark and broken world. The light is the light of the gospel, and it draws all people to its warmth and radiance. When we are salt and light for others, we are more likely to fulfill God’s will and Jesus’ words. Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As the salt of the earth, we are disciples of Jesus when we allow our characters to be formed by God’s blessings. As the light of the world, we are followers of Jesus when we accept the covenantal blessings and shine the light of Christ in the world. May we ask God to build character within us that will be salt and light to the world.

When and how can the light of God’s love and the light of Christ shine in the world? Where does the world need salt and light now? How might we be that salt and light? May we shine in dark places, bearing the light of Christ. The light is not given for our own personal enjoyment. How we move and dwell with others will make all the difference in the world as we follow in the footsteps of our crucified and risen Lord. May we serve as a shining light and positive influence in our communities and inspire others to do the same.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)