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Salt & Light!

February 9, 2014

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Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany                                     Trinity Lutheran Church

9 February 2014                                                                     Murdock, NE

+Jesu Juva +

Matthew 5:13-16


Do you know who you are?  The answer may surprise you.  Shock you.  Repent you.  Delightfully astonish you and give you the great joy of faith in Jesus.

Now don’t go looking deep inside yourself for the answer to your identity.  You don’t determine who you are.  The Lord does!  Incredibly He does it through His words!  Jesus speaks and you are who He says you are.  He has the say so!  His words do and give what they say.

So what did Preacher Lord Jesus say?  Listen.  This is who you are.

“You are the salt of the earth.”

“You are the light of the world.”      

Did you note how He preached it?  Not:  You will be salt and light.  Not:  You should be salt and light.  It’s not a command.  It is the fact of the matter!

You are salt.  You are light.  Because Jesus says so. His words determine your identity.  Salt.  Light.  Or a disciple.  A follower.  A Christian.  A believer in this Preacher Jesus who did the Good Friday salvation job just for you.

So you are salt and light. Salt is salty.  Light shines.    This is the good use Jesus has for you, His redeemed sinners – His disciples – on the earth or in the world.  As His instruments or means Jesus uses you to salt and to shine.

Here’s another way that Jesus preaches this fact:  a good tree bears good fruit (Matthew 7:17).  In other words, faith in Jesus as the only Savior goes to work in the world.  Disciples of Jesus are busy.  Active.  Doing deeds to help those in need.  Salting.  Shining.  Salt shaking.  Lamping its light all through the house, the community or in the world for that matter.

You are a Christian.  You are a disciple of Jesus.  You are salt.  You are light.

Salt is not salt for itself.  Salt is salt in order to salt.  Light is not light for itself.  Light shines in order to shine.  You are redeemed, died for, Good Friday-ed forgiven to live on the earth for the sake of others.

As salt seasons food so you, the salty Christian are to season the earth.  How?  With your faith in Jesus and your works of sacrificial service for others.

Faith toward Jesus and love for the neighbor.  This is the Christian life.  This twofold shape is what it means to be salt and light.

This is, as St. Paul declared in the Epistle, a “message of wisdom among the mature.”  What I preach to you today is “not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing,” (1 Corinthians 2:6).  I speak God’s wisdom by giving you His words – that you are salt and light.  Beware, I tell you, of the powers at work within you and all around.  They don’t get it.  They stubbornly oppose the Lord’s words.  They will do their *^%# so that you lose your briny tang or put a wet blanket over you to dim or diminish you as light.

Your old Adamic self-righteous sinful nature, the world, and the devil (yes that’s right – I said it — Satan does exist) DO NOT want you to be TOO Christian.  Whereas Lord Jesus says “You are salt” and “You are light,” this unholy trinity claims that they have better words to live by.  Superior words that you can trust.

What are those words?  Here’s what they preach.  “Don’t be salt.  Don’t be light.  No potential in that!  You can be something better than salt and light!” In other words, your old Adam, the world and Satan clamor for you to be insipid, bland, wishy-washy tangless salt or to put your light in a locked up cupboard.

That translates into this.  You live in a tolerant and diverse society.  However, don’t take your Christianity too seriously.  Water it down. Lower the tone.  Dial it back.  Compromise a little.  So that you can be successful in this world!  So that you can have your best life now!  After all, you don’t want to be labeled as being too extreme, do you?  All things in moderation as the diversity and tolerance police always say!  Most of the social elites, bishops, academics, the NSA, the IRS, and the little “d” and make believe divinities of the state don’t look too kindly on fanatics.  Especially the religious kind – called by some to be “bitter clingers” – those who believe the Bible to be God’s Word.

Bitter clingers who confess Jesus alone as Lord!  Who bet the farm that there is no other God than that man Jesus!  Who believe that He actually died for sinners and physically rose from the dead on the third day for the world’s salvation.  That this same Jesus will reveal Himself in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead.

New York’s Governor Cuomo let the tyrannical cat out of the bag recently in a radio interview.  I alluded to this a couple of weeks ago.  Now I’ll be more specific.  He flat out declared that pro-life and pro-heterosexual marriage folks are de facto extremists and therefore no longer welcome in his state.

If you speak up as salt and light in order to preserve and protect life and to uphold holy marriage according to the Lord’s mandate and institution in Genesis 1-2 and the Fifth & Sixth Commandments, then you are on the verge of being charged with crimes against humanity in this country!  Soon to be gulag-ed.  Sent to a Siberia.  Tack on the verbal confession that the crucified Jesus is the First Commandment Lord and no one else is (especially the state) and you’re too salty for Coumo’s taste!  The Epistle today flat out told us that the “rulers of this age” don’t get it (1 Corinthians 2:8).

Salt and light Christians?  The world hears this sermon of Jesus and these are fightin’ words!  Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet.  The truth that salty and beaming Christians proclaim is just too brackish and too intense for the governor’s taste buds and eyes!  He’s not the only one.  So it goes with many, many others, in the world, our state, communities, families and congregations!  And perhaps all that’s just too salty and too bright even for you.

Now if that’s the case with you – if you’ve lost your saltiness, you’re as Jesus says:  “no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”  Or as Jesus puts it to the church at Laodicea:  “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth,” (Revelation 3:15-16).  You don’t want that do you?  Of course not!  You, His Good Friday-ed forgiven sinners WANT what Jesus wants for you.   

So once again I’m here to tell you who you are.  To give you the Lord’s Word.  No better words than His!  Listen again.  “You ARE the salt of the earth.”  “You ARE the light of the world.”

You are His instruments to salt and light the world, the country, your community, your family, and yes, even your congregation.  That means living as a Christian!  With no apologies!  No compromises!  Even if you get serious blow back, threats or suffer harm from the little “l” lords or pretend divinities of this world.

Salt salts and light shines by boldly confessing only Jesus as Lord for you by worshiping Him regularly, calling upon Him in every trouble, treating His Word as holy, gladly hearing and learning it, and bullishly coming to the Sacrament of the Altar to eat and drink His body and blood.  That’s how faith rolls.

Then there’s living a life of self-sacrificial love for others who need your help.  Who need your tenderness and care.  Like your spouse.  Your kids.  Your co-workers.  Your fellow members of this congregation.  Isaiah put it like this today:  doing what is just, sharing your food with the hungry, providing the poor wanderer with shelter, clothing the naked.  And that all starts in your own family:  “and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood,” (Isaiah 58:6-7).  After all, those closest to you need you the most but they’re also the ones you seem to hurt the most.  No more of that!  Don’t pull a Philip Seymour Hoffman or a Woody Allen who massively lived only for Philip and Woody and who have hurt so many along the way!

You are salt and light!  Salt and light help.  Salt and light exist for the benefit of others who need your saltiness and brightness.

So, there you have it.  The Christian life.  You live in Christ through faith and then in your neighbor through love.  Denying yourself in order to be of help to the people with whom you live. Offering your bodies as living sacrifices of service to help out others.  As salt and light.  That’s who you are.  Jesus says so.

Then, just as Jesus says, “men will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  How wonderful!

Aren’t you glad Jesus has the say so here at Trinity?

Happy being salt and light!

In the Name of Jesus.

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