“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. 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.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
Many western cultures are in the second month of a new calendar year. In the US in particular, the new year is a time of making resolutions and setting intentions. Having a way to mark time and seasonal rhythms is beneficial, and most of us can positively relate to the idea of a reset or fresh start.
Sadly, the setting of New Year’s resolutions has been co-opted by the self-help industry in the US. The promise of a successful, limitless life is within your grasp! Simply choose these behaviors, these products and you can avoid pain, suffering, mourning, persecution. But that’s not the message of Matthew 5 that begins with the Beatitudes, is it?
After Jesus implores his listeners to be the salt and light of the world, he goes on to teach extensively on healthy relationships and our impact on others. Yet with a culture that focuses on individualism, we’re often malformed to set goals and resolutions only for self.
The second person of the Trinity, who chose to self-empty (kenosis) and conform to humanity, is now conforming us to his redeemed humanity. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus seems to be saying, Pay attention! This is what it looks like to be fully human.
It looks like being other-centered and relational. It looks like mutuality, interconnectedness, and showing up with love in community. We don’t light a lamp on its own, and salt is distasteful when eaten alone.
You are the salt and light of the world because that is your identity in Christ and who you were made to be. Therefore, be salt and light! Is there hope for us if we lose our flavor, our saltiness? Absolutely! The Bible, taken as a whole, teaches us that Jesus goes after and restores that which is lost. He is in pursuit of you, and he is relentless. What good news!
Beloved church, blessed are we to be compelled by love. How might you set an intention today to show up as the flavor and the light of the kingdom for your neighbors?
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for pursuing us. Jesus you are the true salt and light of the world. Conform us to your image and compel us to love another. Amen.
Study by Elizabeth Mullins
First published on 9th February 2022 in GCI Update Devotionals https://update.gci.org
About the writer:
Elizabeth Mullins is Grace Communion International Media, Publications Assistant.
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