“Change the World”
Text; Matthew 5:13-16
If you are reading this today, you are still on this side of eternity; God has called you to be a change agent, someone who God can use to change the world around you.
Evil and sin are so prevalent in our society and world today it can be overwhelming. But as Edmund Burke once stated; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” The reality is that throughout history, there have been excessively evil days. Gen 6:11, Psalm 14:3 and in the New Testament we find frequent references to the presence of evil all over the world.
God has an ultimate solution to this problem of sin and evil, it is the rule and reign of Jesus when he returns in Glory. But until that day God has placed Christians all over the world to be change agents, to influence and halt the spread of corruption and evil. Jesus calls us to be the salt and light in a dying and corrupt world.
Let us look at these two elements of Salt and Light. Often we read these two elements as having the same functions, and being a similar symbol. However they have quite different functions. Salt is a preservative and an enhancer and provider of flavor. Salt was also used as a method of payment and a trading commodity; it affected many lives on a daily basis. The Rabbis and the teachers used salt as a symbol for wisdom; in fact they would say that if someone loses their saltiness, they had become foolish. Another aspect of salt is that is produces thirst. Jesus is saying that as his followers, we need to be setting an example in every area of our lives so that people who see us are drawn to the source of life, the living water. Haven’t you been around someone who so lives their Christian walk that people around them are drawn to them, or want to be like them? So we see that salt is such a rich symbol of the personal Christian walk, it serves to preserve against the evils of society, impacting the people who are in direct contact with the Christian, creating a thirst for righteousness.
Then we need to look at the analogy of the Light. Light emphasizes visibility and illumination. Those who want to do evil will use darkness to conceal their actions. But followers of Christ are to be those who dispel darkness and illuminate the way to Jesus as the true source of light.
As Christians we should not strive to be a light that people look at, rather we need to be a people who turn the spotlight on Jesus, so that he can be illuminated. The attention must always be on Jesus. As I mentioned last week, we must never attempt to draw any attention to ourselves, if we do things in order to receive a pat on the back or for the glory of recognition, we are in a dangerous position indeed. Verse 16 is very clear; “16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” We must let our light shine, we must be doing good deeds, we must be serving and blessing our community, we must be involved in the alleviation of poverty and pain in our society. But the sole purpose of doing this is to bring Glory to our Father in heaven. Our light is to be a reflection of Jesus.
So how do we live this out? How do we change the world? In order to make a difference, to have the influence of salt, we need to be involved in the world. Too many Christians are trying to live a monastic lifestyle, separating themselves from contact with those who do not know Jesus. Salt is a wonderful flavor enhancer and preservative, but it is only effective if it is used. We need to be influencers of our environment, affecting the world by being a living and breathing representation of the Gospel message. As we live our lives are we joyful or complaining? Are we generous or selfish? Are we caring or careless? As we live lives of Joy, generosity and care, we will promote a thirst for the one thing that the world needs most. We will create a thirst for righteousness, a thirst for the life giving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Note Jesus says; “you are the light of the world” not; “you should be the light of the world”, or; “I wish you were the light of the world”, no; “YOU ARE”. We need to understand that all true believers, who live lives that are led by the Holy Spirit and who have died to their past lives of sin, are a light to the world around them.
What we value is expressed in our actions. Those who hold kingdom values, the values of the Word of God, will witness by words and deeds of the Love of God to those around them. The very real danger is to put our light under a bowl, or to keep the salt next to the pot. We can change the world, we can make a difference. That is the reason God has placed each of us where we are.