“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.”
Yup that’s what it says in the text, good works.
Now, if I was a good evangelical I’d be disagreeing with this. After all, aren’t we put right with god though grace and not works?
But I am not that kind of evangelical. And the passage is not about our relationship with God. What Jesus was talking about above was our relationship with the world. Or more specifically with the people in the world.
What you see above is what I wrote in yesterday’s blog. I had read the text, meditated on it and then wrote down what I had thought. But I was wrong. Not about the bit above, but what followed.
I had imagined the impact of Jesus’ words on an ordinary Jew listening to Jesus give this. I suppose the “Blessed are the cheese makers” thing from Monty Python’s Life of Brian has got into my head, but the sermon on the mount was not like this. The context is clear from the text, and without checking back on the text I lost the context.
There were crowds following Jesus, that is clear. But it is also clear that Jesus would from time to time escape the crowds: Sometimes alone and at other times with his disciples. This was the latter.
Jesus told his disciples, specifically his disciples, how they should interact with the world. By being the salt of the earth and light of the world. Do not lose your integrity. Be salt, our saltiness, our integrity comes from Jesus. Stay close to Jesus.
But that is not an excuse to escape from the world. We need to get involved. God loves the world and it is our job to be involved in the world. Which is the point of the light stuff. Be visible.
There is a lot said about going on retreat: Taking time to reflect is good, lots of people do this, especially during Lent. It is good, Jesus went away in order to hear from his Father God. But it does not affect the way we live out our faith, the way we relate to the world then it is an utter waste of time.
If all we do is go from one warm fuzzy feeling we get in meditation, or from worship, and long for the next one without it affecting our daily lives we are wasting our time. It is so important I said it twice.
This is what God wants from our spiritual exercises: Go and act like this. This is the will of God.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.”