Slat of the Earth
Jesus said, you are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. That is a wonderful statement about us. He didn’t say this lightly. This tells us exactly who we are. He didn’t say try to be the salt of the earth or be the light of the world. He said you ARE already the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Since you are the salt and be the light, live like the salt and live like the light. Don’t be something else. Don’t lose that saltiness and don’t live in your darkness.
Salt and Light were the two most precious things during Jesus’ time. During Roman period, the salt was so precious that they called it, “white gold.” Since it was so precious, and people knew that, sometimes soldiers in Roman Army were paid with salt instead of money. It was called “Salarium.” Sal is the Latin word for the salt. From that word, the word “salary” came out.
Jesus used the most precious things around him to tell us that we are that. You are not just ordinary things. You are the most precious things without which the world cannot survive. You are indispensable. You are not just a screw in a big machine which is always replaceable. You are more than that.
You Are Precious
When Jesus came to this world, he felt bad because he saw that they lived their lives, not knowing how precious they were. They lived their lives as though they were nobody. Nobody told them that they were precious. Nobody treated them as though they were precious people. They abused each other, cut down each other, and treated each other with no respect. Jesus wanted to restore their honour. Jesus wanted to let them know how precious and valuable they were.
My friends, you are the salt and the light. Don’t forget that. You are precious enough for Jesus to die for you. Do you think Jesus would die for something worthless?
Have respect for yourself. You don’t need to do great things. You are already great. The ultimate life goal is to find that you are precious. To others, you may be only one lost soul. To them, you may be not 99, the majority that are important. But to God, you are the most precious thing and he goes out and searches all over the place to find you. Once he finds you, he comes home with joy and throws a party for the whole village. You are that precious.
Everywhere in the Bible, you see this message and yet it is so hard for us to believe how precious we are.
You are precious to me, and I have given you a special place of honor. I love you. That’s why I am willing to trade others, to give up whole nations, to save your life. (Isaiah 43:4)
All the good things come from this understanding, the understanding that you are very important. When you realize that you are precious to God, that’s when change begins. Your life changes.
That’s how David changed. It is not that he decided to live a good life. He realized how much God thought of him. Who am I that God thought of me this much. That changed him.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:17-18)
He understood how deeply God thought about him. This was a shocking realization for him. Hear what he said in his poem.
What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour. (Psalm 8:4, 5)
St. Paul – the same thing happened. He realized how much he was meant to God and this realization changed him.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39)
This realization was what changed him.
Life becomes precious when we realize how precious we are. No one can take that away from us.
The Precious Self
We can take the path of true righteousness when we understand how important we are in God’s eyes. This kind of righteousness doesn’t make you conceited. It doesn’t make you arrogant. You don’t need to use your pride to maintain your importance. It makes you rather humble. Knowing that you are very important to God humbles you.
You don’t need to follow moral standards others set up to feel important. You are not trying to live up to people’s expectations to be appreciated. You don’t need to prove to yourself how good you are. That kind of righteousness was the righteousness the Pharisees pursued. That was what the scribes pursued. They might have looked good in the eyes of others.
But the true righteousness is not achieved in that way. It’s not about following the moral standards. It is about being faithful to yourself who is so precious. You are not just following what is good in the eyes of other people. You follow the beautiful self God created in you. God created you and said it was good. When we realize how precious we are, we set a very high standard. We don’t compromise with a mediocre lifestyle.
To be the salt and the light means – BE the best you can be. Be who you are means – Live up to that precious self. We have to live up to what we believe about ourselves. How I look at myself governs how I live my life. If I see myself as a failure, then I will live my life like a loser. If I see potential in myself, then I will pursue the potential.
If you lose yourself, then your beautiful self will be hidden, then how can you live out your full potential?
This is what Jesus said.
…if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. (Matthew 5:13)
A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:14, 15)
Don’t lose your saltiness. Don’t hide your light. Live out as the salt and as the light.
Jesus came to restore our damaged self. He came to remould us so that we can be whole again. Damaged goods do not do much good. They are useless and they rather do harm.
Scribes and Pharisees were damaged goods. Don’t get me wrong. They were not criminals. They were not drug addicts. They were not psychopaths. They were perceived as model citizens. They kept the laws well. They were respected. They kept the social standards very well.
Their problem was – Their righteousness did not come from understanding how precious they were and how precious people were. Because they didn’t see themselves as precious, they couldn’t see others as precious. People who don’t respect themselves cannot respect others. People who are angry with themselves also get angry with others easily. People who don’t believe in themselves cannot believe in others. People who are cynical about themselves will be also cynical with others.
The righteousness that comes from that kind of people is not real. It is all show. It is to show to other people. It is to impress others or God. It is merely a manipulation.
That’s why Jesus said this.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
Their righteousness killed the Son of God. Their righteousness destroyed God. Their righteousness put people in bondage.
When our damaged self is not restored, we can harm each other. From the damaged self, the only thing that will come out will be damage.
The Salt and The Light
With God, everything becomes precious. You become precious. Others become precious. Finding that is salvation.
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
Be the salt and be the light.
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