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Jesus is famous for asking questions: Who do you say that I am? Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? Why does this generation seek a sign?
Why? To invite us in. He engaged the people around Him with questions that sparked even further curiosity, and he drags us out of the spectator's seat by asking us questions that pierce our hearts.
But He didn't always ask questions. Sometimes He just... said what was what and left it to us to either follow or disobey.
The Sermon on the Mount is full of these. Do not murder. Rejoice and be glad. Turn the other cheek.
And there are even times Jesus speaks definitively about us.
“You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world."
-- Matthew 5:13-14
It's not we can be salt and light.
It's not that we should be salt and light.
It's not that one day we will be salt and light.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
And these statements would have astonished, amazed, excited, and confused anyone within earshot.
When we think of salt, we tend to think of something rather common. Who doesn't have salt around their house? And if we're ever out, we could find salt in just about any gas station, restaurant, or grocery store. Not to mention some in a neighbor's house if we were in a pinch.
But the crowd around Jesus would have heard this and thought they were receiving the compliment of the century from the Son of Man.
Salt was incredibly important. If you wanted to preserve meat, it had to be cured, and this was done by drying and salting it. Jesus seemed to be telling them that they were to help preserve the world where they lived.
But they were also instructed to give it flavor. Salt naturally enhances taste by intensifying certain flavors and decreasing others. Salt has the unique ability to simultaneously make sweet things seem sweeter and bitter things less bitter.
In addition to preserving and protecting the world around us, Jesus is saying we should be enriching it as well. And if we somehow lose that saltiness, we'd no longer be able to do any of that.
You and I have light whenever we need it. Darkness isn't really that scary because even our phones have flashlights.
But imagine you're nearly 2,000 years away from being introduced to electricity. When the sun goes down, you can't see as well. And that's when you can be surprised or caught off guard. A thief. An animal. Anything that wants to harm you has an advantage.
Light was valuable back then, y'all.
As light, we illuminate and make visible all that Jesus has done in our lives. We bring truth and safety and comfort.
Jesus tells us we are two things: salt and light.
Salt protects against the bad. Light shines on the good.
The metaphors of salt and light specifically addressed the impact faithfulness should have in the world. It should illuminate and preserve. Like both salt and light, our relationship with God should have an obvious impact on everyone who comes in contact with it.
So... be encouraged! Because Jesus isn't telling you to strive for something you aren't yet. He's describing what you are now.