Salt and Light

By Edward Thal /

Christians are called to serve a world that will repay them with rejection and persecution. We are both “the salt of the earth…the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14) and “the filth of the world…the offscouring of all things.” (I Corinthians 4:13).

Many Christians react to this uncomfortable reality by adapting to the world – some more, some less. But confrontation must never be met by compromise.

Christians are supposed to be the salt that hinders the process of social decay by acting as a moral disinfectant in the world, maintaining standards of truth, decency and purity in deed and word that are unaffected by, and absolutely different from, conditions around them.

Salt adds flavor to food, but more importantly it preserves food by slowing decay. Food rubbed with salt, if properly cured, will keep indefinitely. Likewise, the world is in constant decay. Its rottenness is described in Romans 1:18-32. It cannot stop itself from going bad – only salt introduced from outside can do that, and only Christians have the necessary saltiness because our life flows from the One who declared that He is not of this world (John 8:23). He also said: “I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6). Christian saltiness is found in unyielding Christian character.

When we dilute that character and become assimilated to the world, the world in turn ceases to heed our message. We are “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden underfoot” (Matthew 5:13).

We must also be shining lights. While salt’s job is to hinder decay, the function of light is to drive back the darkness of ignorance and sin.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

There are things that Christians don’t do because our job is to purify, not to please. On the other hand, there are some things we must do because our job is also to point the way. We do this primarily by shining “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4) that is the only antidote to the spiritual blindness imposed by the god of this world. This is why personal evangelism is not an option for Christians—it is an imperative!

Let your light shine! Go into all the world! Be witnesses!

An invisible Christian is a dysfunctional Christian. We are to be a “burning and a shining lamp” (John 5:35), a “city that is set on a hill…a candle in the darkness.” (Matthew 5:14-15).  

A shining witness is the natural result of inner passion and spiritual intensity. These traits must never be the exclusive domain of the forces of darkness. Almost 100 years ago the Irish poet W.B. Yeats lamented the devastation wrought by the First World War and wrote:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Almost 2000 years before Yeats the Apostle Paul wrote:

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light (Romans 13:12).