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Salty Faithers!

February 9, 2020

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Epiphany 5                                                          Trinity Lutheran Church

9 February 2020                                                Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +


Matthew 5:13-20


Did you hear what the Lord Jesus said?  You weren’t dozing off were you?  I sure hope not. But I know how easy it is to catnap when I preach.  However, what Jesus says bears repeating.  You are “salt” and you are “light.”  You’re salty because Jesus Good Friday-ly atoned for all your sin by His Good Friday dying.  You’re light because you reflect the one true Light Jesus who called you out of darkness into His wonderful, salvational, Easter Sunday resurrection glory.


You’re salt.  You’re a reflected light.  In other words, you’re a faith-er.  Faith in Jesus for salvation.  Faith lives outside itself toward Jesus.  Faith lives outside of itself in love toward others in sacrificial actions.  A salty Christian doesn’t exist for himself.  He exists to season and preserve.  A lit Christian doesn’t exist for himself.  You don’t light a lamp, Jesus says, and then put a basket over it.  You put the light on a stand so it can be seen. So that the light can fill the darkness.  Therefore Jesus says to you today:  “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”   


This is magnificent!  Jesus has beneficial use of you His salty faith-ers, His light-y trust-ers in this world. Jesus would use you as His instruments, His hands or His mouth as salt and light to do:   “good works.” 


We Lutherans are all for “good works.”  We are very concerned about “good works.” Does that shock you?  Well, it shouldn’t!  Ephesians 2:10 teaches:  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ, FOR GOOD WORKS.”

Now, do you know what is the best or the highest “good work” in God’s eyes?  The answer may surprise you.  It is … spelled … F-A-I-T-H!  Yes, that’s right:  faith!  Trust.  In Jesus.  For salvation.  Jesus says so in John 6:29.  When people asked Him, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?”  this was His answer: “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE IN HIM whom he has sent.”     Now, so there’s no misunderstanding listen very carefully.  This is exceptionally important.  Works are only good in God’s sight when they flow from faith in Jesus.  Don’t forget. Romans 14:23 categorically teaches that, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”  This is precisely why Jesus in Matthew 7:17 teaches that a good tree (a believer) bears good fruit (good works).


So, if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down here today, according to Jesus your life in this world has a ton meaning.  Faith in Jesus for salvation and then Jesus having good use of you through works that serve the neighbor simply because the neighbor needs it.  And more! The more is this:  As you do them via faith Jesus is doing them.  “I no longer live but Christ lives in me,” Paul says in Galatians 2:20.


Each commandment describes what salty and enlightened works your neighbor needs and the Lord’s good use of you as His hands and mouth.  I’ll mention a few.  4th – honoring authority:  parental, civil and churchly.  5th – protecting life from its beginning to its natural end.  6th – Remaining faithful in holy marriage. 7th – Improving and protecting your neighbor’s possessions and income.  8th – defending your neighbor’s reputation.  9th & 10th – your neighbor’s house and spouse.


Let me put all this another way by way of review.  Works are the breath of faith.  Works are faith’s exhaling in service to others.  Works are faith’s faithfulness.  We love.  Why?  Because we are loved by God in Jesus His Son who fulfilled the law for us.  We forgive.  Why?  Because we have been forgiven of everything by Jesus who didn’t come to set aside the commandments but came to keep them flawlessly and then utterly suffered the law’s hellish damnation by His atoning, sacrificial death on the cross.  We show mercy.  Why?  Because Jesus first has had mercy on us by laying down His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Love, forgiveness and mercy.  Why?  So that people may see those good works that Jesus does through you and glorify your Father in heaven!


When we don’t love faith isn’t breathing.  When we fail to show mercy to our neighbor we are putting a basket over the light of Jesus.  Hiding what He has done and what He is doing in and through us.  And then comes the danger of becoming salt that “has lost its taste” and “is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”  Or as James 2:17 puts it:  “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”


Better listen to Jesus again.  You are salt.  You are light.  Because He says so.  Because He gives so.  Therefore, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Notice who gets the glory here.  Not you.  God the Father does!  We serve others sacrificially so that they may see such love and then recognize from where they come:  not you, but from YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.


Much of the salty good works that I reviewed with you from commandments a moment ago are despised by countless folks.  Believe in the Triune God?  Go to church to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation through His Word?  Be a Christian?  You’re considered delusional — exceptionally dangerous — not only to society but to the world’s peaceful existence according to Richard Dawkin’s  and his infamous 2006 book The God Delusion!  Honor authority?  Like parents, police or pastors?  The ungodly ridicule and mock you for honoring God-given authority and authorities.  They call it a man-made racist construct that must be deconstructed – destroyed!  Listen to Colin Kaepernick and his cronies and you’ll understand.  Speak for the protection of the baby in the womb and work for the ending of abortion and infanticide? You are demonized as being the most wicked people the world has ever seen.  Listen to the hashtag Hollywood elites and the prominent politicians and you’ll know what I mean.  Promote and pray for marriage to be done in the very good of God’s creation, namely, between a man and woman only? Then you are considered to be the vilest of criminals and labeled an enemy of the state.  Read the New York Times, The Huffington Post or listen to the talking heads on most the TV and cable networks and you’ll be able to feel the hatred not only of you but of your “good works.”


However, the time will come when these foolish elitist Genesis 3 God-within-ers will have to acknowledge that these works of yours that Jesus does through you for others are really good and God-pleasing.  1 Peter 2:12 puts it this way:  “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak evil against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”


So you salt-ers and light-ers — keep the good works coming.  Be reckless in the loving, the giving, and the serving.  In Jesus you are free to serve the neighbor with faith-filled good works.  And while you’re at it – or better said – while Christ is at it through you —  your Father in heaven gets all the glory.  What a meaningful life!  What joy!


In the Name of Jesus.

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