The Christian Vocation
13 “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.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[b] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The end of the year is a good time to pause and reflect on the previous year and consider how one is doing with their goals and pursuits. There are many different ways that we can evaluate how we are doing. How well we did as parents, as children, as spouses, as employees or employers. How well we did as citizens, neighbors, church members etc. Are we growing in our love and obedience to God and are we growing in love and service to others? There are many different roles that we have. There are many different areas of evaluation. But an evaluation is only as good as the standard by which we are evaluated.
What are we to be about? What is God’s standard for us as followers of Jesus Christ? This passage is all about that. I am going to call God’s standard, the Christian vocation. What are we called to be doing? Now, if we got into specifics, this would be a very long and tedious list. The broad categories of behavior are much easier to pursue in a 30-40 minute sermon. And this passage goes in that direction.
- Your Job is to be Salt and Light
- Light gives understanding
Light allows one to see what is there.
Main categories where we need light:
- What is God like, what does He expect of me.
- How am I doing relative to number 1?
- Salt is a preservative
This is not about being tasty. This is about being a life preserver!
It does not take a huge amount of salt to preserve fish or meat etc.
But, salt must actually be salt. Salt that does not preserve is a huge disappointment.
- Salt and light fight against sin
Light fights against sin being hidden. Ignorance of sin is not bliss, it is death.
Light presents a pathway to life. Jesus is the light of life! Jesus is the Light of the World.
John 8: 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
We should be able to say with confidence, that if you follow the way that we live, you will have the light of life! It’s not that you won’t have problems, but you will have a pathway to life regardless of what your circumstances are!
Love others, serve others, love God, pursue spiritual disciplines: Especially prayer, bible study, worship (at church), and service. Be a giver of your time, your money, your energy to others for their good!
Be aware of your personal weaknesses and build strengths around them.
Salt acts in culture in such a way as to heal the brokenness of people through service, love and teaching Jesus Christ as the way to life! There is a number of people necessary to keep cultures from being completely rotten. But believers only act as a preservative as they are actually salty. They must actually live as Christ would in a culture.
- The Law Gives Light and Makes Salty
- Jesus does not abolish the law
The moral law of God will never change. Not every admonition in Scripture is related to the moral law. Slaves obey your masters is not a statement that slavery is good or that it is God’s design for people. It is not. Paul’s statements about marriage in I Cor 7 are an example of Paul answering a specific question within a specific cultural context. Just like Jesus in Matthew 24 telling people to flee to the mountains when they see the Abomination that brings desolation.
People often look at cultural issues and then apply their relativity to issues that are not cultural. Human sexuality is a very obvious one here. The most pervasive sinful issue in our culture is sexual intimacy outside of a Biblical marriage. If you are not married, it is inappropriate for you to be engaging in sexual behavior with another person. Why? Because of God’s design for human reproduction. Because of God’s design for marriage. Because of God’s design for a family.
What about divorce? What God has joined together, let no man separate. Divorce is narrowly allowed. Adultery, Abuse and Abandonment. Adultery is overtly mentioned. Abuse is obvious. If it is legal to kill someone in self-defense, then surely it is legal to divorce someone in self-defense. Abandonment is also obvious. If your spouse has left you and will not consent to live with you, I don’t believe you are bound to them. And I believe you are free to re-marry.
But being light also would relate to what it is like to be married to you. Do you love and respect your spouse. Do you submit to your spouse? Are you cooperative? Do you pull your weight? Are you working on being molded into the best partner for your spouse? You aren’t born perfect in any other area, you aren’t perfect in this one either, regardless of what was conveyed while courting!
What about homosexual behavior?
Leviticus 20: 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
Well, this is just the law, Old law, Leviticus is weird! Well, in this same passage sex with animals, and incest is forbidden. How is that different from any other prohibited sexual sin? There is a desire. That desire is forbidden.
I Cor 6:9; I Tim 1:10; Romans 1:26-27; Sodom and Gomorrah. People will say, well homosexuality is not mentioned much in the Bible. True. Bestiality and Incest even less often. So what?!
Now, I think we should also say that same sex attraction is not a sin. It is acting on that attraction that is sin. And we should also say that homosexual people are created in the image of God and we should not hate them. There is no excuse for abusing, degrading or treating any person with less respect than they deserve as an image bearer of God. This does not mean that we cannot discuss behaviors. We must share love and the truth.
- Jesus changes our relationship to the law
The book of Hebrews refers to many aspects of the Old Testament law as shadows. And it refers to Jesus as the reality of that shadow. As such, the reality will always replace the shadow. And justly so. There is no reason for Gentiles to celebrate Passover, since we were not Jews released from Egypt, but even if we were, that release from Egypt is meant to be a picture of a fuller freedom from slavery to sin and it’s punishment. It is a slavery bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the REAL Passover lamb. We do not have an old Testament priesthood because Jesus is our great high priest who has gone into heaven with His own blood as an offering to God in payment for our sins. Jesus did this one time and there is no further offering for sins. And that is because His offering for sins worked! The sacrificial system is no longer necessary. Jesus is our whole mediator between us and God. There is nothing that can be added to Him and there is nothing wanting in His work for us.
- We must look to the heart of the law
The rest of this chapter, and much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount deals with the corrupted religious system of Jesus’ day. The Scribes and the Pharisees did not approach the law from the perspective of the Beatitudes. They were not poor in spirit. They did not mourn. They did not hunger and thirst for righteousness, They were not merciful, gentle or peacemakers. Why? Because they were confident in their own righteousness before the law. That is the worst sin one can evidence, hence Jesus’ statement to them concerning Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
There is a helpless feeling before the law that all people need to experience. You are guilty. But this guilt is solvable by Jesus. But Jesus only solves the guilty problem for those who see it and repent. The Pharisees are horrible. The Sadducees are philosophical liberals who are arrogant and above it all. They are like religious atheists.
Jesus will finish chapter 5 and tell us that before the law we must be as perfect as God. I don’t think people take Him seriously.
And then in chapter 6 Jesus points out that the spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer and giving are totally worthless as practiced by the Pharisees as well, because they do those things for reputation benefit from people. They don’t need God. They are winning on their own. God condemns them. They are in big trouble. The Pharisees spread darkness, not light. They have lost their saltiness and are only good to create traction in snow and ice.