The next part of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:13-20) is the part about believers (disciples of Jesus) being "salt" and "light" that is not mixed or shadowed. The righteousness that Christ gives us is pure, and, as you'll see below, such purity is annoying, irritating, hard to handle--until one is filled with the Holy Spirit of God... and the Holy Spirit filled person is annoying, irritating, hard to handle. So we must pray for GRACE and "FAVOR" so we're do not give into the temptation to compromise the truth in an attempt to win people for the Lord.
Here's some continued thoughts I have to share about this coming Sunday's message--three bullet points and some general comments...
- Christians (disciples) are different--and for good reason.
- Some Christians don't understand this and it's important that they do because all disciples are tempted to give up the difference and fit in. If we do give in, we will not be a blessing anymore, we'll simply fit in with the rotting and dark patterns of the world. Jesus' example shows us that some will reject the Gospel and the New Life; 2 Cor 2:14-16a tells us that some will experience the "difference" as a bad thing.
- So what do we do? We PRAY and stay close to the Word of God (Jesus). We will pray for others and for "favor," (or good flavor!) that is, that God will give others a favorable impression of the salt and light in our lives ("that a door may be opened" Col 4:3) and continue to be immersed in the Word of God (in Jesus' life, death and resurrection) because sometimes we will experience rejection.
Being "salt" and "light" is in contrast to what is in the world, that is, in the world there is decomposition (rotting) and darkness.Please pray that the message of the Lord will be pure! Pray that God will give favor to all who preach and share.
Being salt and light will be a good thing but it's irritating for the world in two ways: as the world looks at us and the blessing God gives (in our families, in our disciplined lives, in our God given ability to live above our circumstances, in our unwillingness to go along with the cruelties and negativity that others pour out upon others) there is an (1) irritation that comes from jealousy; plus there is an (2) irritation that comes from the healing process (such as what happens when I gargle with salt and it hurts my throat) and the call for repentance (like when light shines on attitudes in my life I want to keep hidden). There is no limit to the amount of salt and light that God desires to pour out of us!
In the world we are called, as much as is possible (Romans 12:17-18) to live in peace with everyone so, in the world, there is a certain loving caution (but not hiding!) that's needed--but when we gather for worship God desires that we be free from that caution. Here we can be filled with the Word and the Holy Spirit without fear or restraint.
Jesus irritated the religious and the irreligious (Jews and Romans) and they killed him for it. The disciples had the same experience.
Still, God does open doors! God does give good favor for the salt and light that we ARE! We shouldn't be ashamed to pray that the Lord will give us a good reputation so we are not tempted to gain that good reputation by compromise or planning to get it. Our example and our life is in Christ, who spent time with His Father and did receive favor with some.