It was the 7th Grade Home-Economics class and our class was divided into groups of 4-5, each group representing a family unit. Our assignment was to make oatmeal from scratch following a simple recipe that would serve our group. Sounds simple as it should be.
I was in charge of mixing the ingredients. The first instruction called for adding for adding four cups of oats to some boiling water. The second instruction involved adding four tea-spoons of salt. Except I made a mistake. I added the four cups of oats as the recipe called for. Then I added the salt…except, rather than adding four tea-spoons, I accidentally added four cups of salt. That’s right…four cups of salt. As you can imagine, the oatmeal had an unmistakeable salty flavor.
“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 2011)
We understand the metaphors. The presence of both salt and light cannot be ignored. Jesus tells us, who choose to follow him, that we are to be both.
This past Sunday I preached on this passage at the Randolph Church of Christ to finish up a series on what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to be a follower (disciple) of Jesus Christ, learning from him and living like him.
While there are many passages of scripture that address discipleship, I chose this passage because of it’s location in the Sermon on the Mount. I am one who believes that what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount is far too often ignored among Christianity in North America. In short, I believe what Jesus teaches in this Sermon describes the life disciples live when they personify the blessings (Beatitudes) of Matthew 5.3-12.
Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is often spun into something far less radical and risky than it really is. Or we sidestep it some other way such as saying it was only meant for the Apostles and other church leaders. Such approaches just prove Jesus’ warning about salt losing its saltiness true. In a culture where the emerging generation increasingly perceives a radical departure between the life Jesus lived and the life his contemporary followers in North America live, we desperately need to allow this Jesus’ sermon to reimagine for us what it means to be disciples of Jesus…not matter how radical or risky it seems.
If you would like to listen to the sermon I preached on the above passage, you can do so by clicking on the following link… K. Rex Butts: “Salt and Light” – Matthew 5.13-16