Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
By: Molly Raney, Executive Director, Houston Welcomes Refugees
We find this text towards the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes leading up to this passage describe the character Jesus desires in those who would be his followers. If I’m being honest, the first few times I read this text, I found myself scanning what I believed was simple instruction and quickly moving on. Salt, a common preservative and enhancer for food, and light, guiding us through our homes, neighborhoods, and city, are common and cheap comforts. There are likely very few days where we wake up and worry about whether we’ll have access to them. Yet they are tremendously valuable when displayed in the character of Christ’s citizens to a world who does not know Him. But what does it look like to be salt and light to an unbelieving world?
As a young adult before I knew Christ, I remember reciting a Chinese proverb in times of frustration or doubt, “It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness.” It’s simple, and yes, I likely read it off a greeting card. But how often do we find ourselves so overwhelmed by the unknown that we freeze, unable to move forward? How often are we so influenced by our culture that we find ourselves sitting around cursing the darkness with others, forgetting that God has called and equipped us to act?
Maintaining our saltiness as followers of Christ means we must live among people in our city who do not know Him without succumbing to worldy things. As a light, we shine before those walking in darkness so that they might know of our Father in Heaven. One candle lit by one person may not light an entire room, but God can multiply what we give to light the world for his glory. Seeing an awakening among the lost in our city requires us to step out of the familiar and into the unknown as one body so that the world will know who sent us. This starts with each of us stepping outside of our comfort zones and into the lives of the lost God has placed around us. And there are many who are lost in our city.
I recently described to a family member some of the friendships I’ve seen built among members of local churches and refugees resettled in Houston from places unreached by the Gospel. As I did so, she recounted stories she had heard about the horrors committed by people from some of these countries and the fear we should carry as a result. But Jesus says that we are the salt and the light of the world, and how much more is the light of Christ needed in places of darkness? Being salt and light in the world means we can be a part of an awakening in our city by moving among those who are lost without fear that we will lose who we are in Christ.
Lord, thank you for equipping us to be the salt and light of the earth. As we pray for an awakening in the city of Houston, we pray that we do not lose sight of the responsibility and privilege that it is to be salt and light to those you have placed among us. While we may not always do this perfectly, do not let us become immobile or numb towards those who need you. Let us each humbly and faithfully pursue the roles you’ve called us into so that we might see a gospel movement across our city and into the world for your glory.