Friday, February 3, 2017

Epiphany 5

Epiphany 5 – series A
5 February 2017
Matthew 5:13–20
Hymn of the Day, 578 “Thy Strong Word”

O Lord, keep Your family the Church continually in the true faith that relying on the hope of Your heavenly grace we may ever be defended by Your mighty power; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

We continue to hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last week we reviewed the Beatitudes. Today the sermon continues. And again. We are faced with the temptation to hear Jesus' words as requirement rather than blessing. As command. Rather than commissioning. But take note. Jesus doesn't say, "If you want to become salt and light, do this..." Or, "before I'll call you salt and light, I'll need to see this from you..." Rather, He says both simply and directly, "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world."

A friend of mine took a poll on facebook the other day. The question: “What does peace look like to you?” My reply was this: “It looks like Jesus! Faith. Looks like Jesus. Hope. Looks like Jesus. Love. Looks like Jesus. Whenever you see faith, hope, love, in action, you see Jesus, and discover peace!

God has never promised that the life of faith would be easy. Its difficulty is often increased by the ethical and attitudinal conditions of the world in which we live. But this should not be of any surprise to us. The way of Christ has always been counter-cultural. This should not shock us. We live in the world. But we are not of the world. We are pilgrims and strangers. We are only visiting this planet. This world is not your home. “I’m but a stranger here heaven is my home.”  However, we find courage to live an active life in the knowledge of what Christ has already done for us and in what He still promises to do through us. The Christian life must always be a grateful response to what the Father has done for us in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.  Christ in His word gives us a new dimension of faith.

A new dimension of the Faith

1.      The seasoning of society.
Christ’s followers are described as “the salt of the earth.” His responsibility toward the world are to be understood in terms of the various qualities of salt, such as strengthening, flavoring, preserving, purifying, etc. 

Jesus saw His followers as levelling agents in an impure world. Their example would keep the fire of faith alive even under stress.

Their example would spread faith to those mired in the cultural waste of this world. But, if their example rang empty. Or, hollow. When Christians live too close to the world, they lose their power to help and to heal.   
This world needs Christians for its betterment. The word “salary” comes from the word salt. The Romans would pay their soldiers not in gold but in salt. A faithful worker was literally “worth his salt.”

Christ says of you, “You are the salt of the world.” That is, a preservative in this corrupt and sinful world. God preserves the world, so that Christians may serve Him here. 

Yet, the Christian has a responsibility to retain the saltiness of his own faith and commitment by the use of Christ’s Word and the Sacraments.  Use them we must. Otherwise, we run the risk of spoiling. Without a connection to Christ and His Word, the Christian will soon lose his usefulness to the world in which he lives. 

Transition: Jesus teaches His disciples that they are to be the salt of the earth. You. And you alone. You. And none other. You are salt. You are light. This is what you were meant to be. You give light in the midst of darkness. You can’t help but do otherwise. You are in Christ.  

2.  The light of the world.

Christ followers are described as “the light of the world.”  Only the Word of God, as communicated by Christians, can dissipate the darkness of sin and the satanic world. Christ is the true light, which enlightens everyone. (John 1:9), Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Christians reflect the light of the Son of God into a world dark with sin, wickedness, ignorance, and unbelief. Your highest form of service is being a light in this world. Bringing the light of the Gospel of salvation into a sin-darkened world.

Not only does the world need to hear the verbal message of Christ It also needs to see the embodiment of that message in human life and action. No. You do not earn your salvation. But as you have been redeemed by Christ. Your aim. Your purpose. Your goal in life is to influence the lives of others. As Christ uses you to be His ambassador in this world.  

The reason Christians don’t have a bucket-list is that we don’t kick the bucket. Rather, we have a to-do list of the Father’s purposes and His gifts. And we never check them off. We just keep sharing them. All the way home.

There are so many faithful believers, living Godly lives, that very few others will ever consider unique, different, or special. Jesus never asked us to be unique. He told us to be faithful. And that alone. Makes you different. You are salt. You are light. Be a witness. An ambassador for Christ in this world.

Words – 936
Passive Sentences – 7%
Readability – 83.0%

Reading Level -3.9

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