In our small group Bible study last week, we discussed the importance of Christians exhibiting a lifestyle that is consistent with what they say they believe. We determined that we are not responsible for someone else’s decision to receive or reject Christ.
However, we also concluded that our conversation and conduct may attract people to, or deter them from God’s offer of salvation through Jesus.
I believe our conclusions are consistent with Jesus’ teachings. In the Sermon on the Mount, He illustrated the testimony and reputation of Christians by employing the metaphors of salt and light.
He said, “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 …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 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)
Salt had two functions in Jesus’ day. Because there was no refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. Without salt most food, especially meats, would spoil quickly. Christians are supposed to defend and preserve that which is good and keep it from eroding and becoming spoiled or evil.
The second use of salt was to add flavour. A follower of Christ should be someone who enhances the worth of life and brings out the best in others. Where there is conflict we should bring peace; where there is pain, we should be part of the healing; where there is sadness, grief and loss, we should be the ministers of comfort; where there is hatred, we should be reminders that God is love.
The analogy of light has reference to the good deeds of Christ’s followers. While the Christian life is not one to be lived in pride and flamboyance, it is also not to be lived in a corner. If indeed Christians are light, then that light must be seen. And it should be noted that where there is greater darkness the light shines the brightest.
There is a remarkable and positive outcome when a Christian becomes a shining “light” for God. The light shines, the good deeds are noticed, but it is the Heavenly Father that receives the credit or glory.
“Live such good lives among unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God. …” (1 Peter 2:21)
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.
— FAITH & REFLECTION