Its history is far reaching. Some call it a “primordial condiment,” available to humankind from the beginning. An interesting fact about salt–when it is released from its container and it finds moisture of any kind, it always influences the environment in which it is found. When sprinkled on our roast beef and mashed potatoes, it enhances the taste of the food and the enjoyment of the meal.
Salt has been used for millennia as a preservative. When applied to certain foods it can arrest deterioration for months or in some cases years.
On icy winter days, salt can be applied to our driveways and porches. Wherever the salt pellets fall, the ice begins to melt. In time, the ice is removed, along with the possible danger the ice brings to walking and driving.
When released from its container, salt always impacts its environment.
Light is much the same. Anytime light is introduced into an environment, the surroundings are changed and influenced. Turn on a light in a darkened room and the entire setting is dramatically enhanced.
The sun is nearly 93million miles from earth. When the sun’s rays hit the surface of the earth, they impact the life and environment of the planet. The sun influences our atmosphere, weather, and water sources. The sun’s light grows our food supply, stimulating the production of chlorophyll in plants, allowing them to grow. If the sun would cease to give its light, it would take seven to eight minutes for its final rays to strike earth’s surface. Afterward, the earth would slowly begin to cool and within hours and days, everything would solidly freeze, even the oceans with their high salt content. If not for the sun, our planet would be one large frozen rock. Without the rays of the sun, we could sustain life only as long as our stored food and fuel supplies lasted. Life on earth depends on the presence and influence of the sun and its light.
Changing the Environment
Salt and light. Two interesting entities. They have this in common: when the proper circumstances are present, salt and light influence, impact, and change their environment. Always.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth . . . You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us that like salt and light, we are to influence and impact the environment in which we find ourselves. God’s plan is not to send angels to earth to do his bidding and work. He is depending on us as his disciples to influence and impact our culture and world for his kingdom’s sake.
God’s plan is for all believers to impact their culture in his name. It is not just for paid staff members of a church to influence their cities but for every believer to participate in this work. You, as a member of the body of Christ, are valuable to God as a tool in his hand for impacting your world. You are a valuable instrument in the Lord’s plan. You can make a difference!
How do we, believers and followers of Jesus, impact our worlds in his name? How are we used to influence our culture for the kingdom?
It begins with the understanding that God’s plan for us is more than just attending worship and giving an offering. These are great beginning steps for new believers but we must go farther. It would look like this. We decide to extend ourselves and do something concrete by getting involved in the life and ministry of the church. We become part of the process of ministry. We evaluate our personal priorities. We participate. We invest. We donate our time, energy, and influence. We take a place of service and use the talents, gifts, and abilities given to us by the Lord to bring strength and health to our church.
It is best to be involved in the areas of our giftedness. If your giftedness is working with young people but not finances, it would be best to join the ranks of youth ministry workers as opposed to the finance ministry team. Work in your areas of greatest passion. What do you enjoying doing? Music, teaching, serving in hospitality roles, administration, leadership, maintenance? What is your area of interest? This would be the place to start when it comes to making an impact in the life of your congregation. When you are ready, call the leader in charge of your area of interest and express your willingness to step out and become involved.
A Discipling Influence
The church is a sleeping giant. If believers in every local congregation began using their gifts to bless the church, the church would grow like never before.
We can be a discipling influence in the lives of others in the nitty-gritty of our daily lives. Against the backdrop of moral, spiritual, and personal darkness that we experience in the world, Jesus’ disciples stand out against the darkness as shining lights (see Philippians 2:14-16). Here are a few suggestions:
Display grace and show respect to everyone you encounter. This may sound like “old school” teaching, but showing of respect and dignity are powerful ways to communicate the love of Christ in a world where manners and respect are disappearing.
Allow a driver to cut in front of you. It may slow you down by a few seconds, but it will also demonstrate Christ’s love to a total stranger.
Take a meal to a shut-in or hurting family. A prepared meal is a powerful way to show love and compassion in concrete terms. Personally visiting those who need our help is clearly a focused way to be salt and light. It is hard to beat the up-close and personal touch.
Listen carefully to someone who needs your time and attention. One of the most genuine gifts we can share with another is focused, concerned listening when they need to talk. Because it seems to happen so infrequently today, when it is done, it’s quite powerful.
Be generous beyond expectation. When we give our money, time, emotional energy, and help, it impacts those around us and brings the “fragrant aroma” of Jesus to those involved (see 2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
Extend forgiveness and mercy to someone who has offended you. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive the offenses of others.
Christ calls us to be salt and light living at home, in our churches, and in our work environments. Why not climb down out of the stands and get on the playing field? When it comes to making an impact in the lives of others, let’s take the napkin off our laps and put on an apron, preparing to serve others in the name of Jesus. As we represent Jesus daily, we will be living out the Lord’s command to be salt and light in his name.
David Roadcup is Professor of Discipleship and Global Outreach Representative for TCMI International in Indianapolis, Indiana.