You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. –Jesus
We all know what happens when a revolutionary party suddenly finds itself in power. It’s one thing to shout angrily from the sidelines, but quite another to form a government and run a country. All sorts of things have to be organized and dealt with which a rebel movement can happily ignore.
When this happens, two questions are asked. First, can this movement really do the basic things that a government can do better than its predecessor? Was it just making a lot of noise which now turns out to be hot air, or can it really deliver the goods? Second, can it remain true to itself and its original ideals even though it’s now in power? Will it, in turn, become corrupt and just like all other governments, starting off in a blaze of glory and good intentions and ending up riddled with corruption and muddle?
Jesus was starting a revolution all right – but it was a different sort of revolution from all the other ones that were bubbling up in his days. (the above paragraphs adapted from N.T. Wright)
For instance, Jesus said in his famous sermon on the mount…
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. Matthew 5:38-39
In this world the assumption is: “You hurt me, I will hurt you back.” In the Kingdom revenge no longer gets the last word, but love and mercy get the last word. I have to apply this with wisdom and discretion and judgment. This teaching was never to be used to justify someone staying in an abusive relationship.
He goes on and says, And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
A Roman soldier was allowed by law to force an Israelite to carry his pack for a mile. This happened all the time. How do you think the zealots, who were bent on the violent overthrow of the Roman government in Israel, felt about this law? They hated it. How do you think a zealot felt when Jesus said,
OK, here is the idea: A Roman soldier comes, gives you his burden, and forces you to carry it a mile for him. When you are done, look at him and say, “I have got some time, I can help you some more. Let me carry it for you for another mile.”
These are dangerous words.
Jesus is NOT saying, “Anytime somebody asks you to do something, you always have to do it.” He is saying, “The general prevailing attitude is: If you’ve got an enemy, stick it to him. But in the Kingdom here is what we are going to do: We are going to love our enemies.”
The is the divine conspiracy of subversive spirituality. How well are we at doing this?
Jesus is saying, “Now in the Kingdom, here is what we are going to do: See these people that get mad at us—we are going to love them. But now, how are you actually going to do it? How am I doing it? This is revolutionary, how are we going to do it?
Effie Peyton was an 85-year-old saint in a church I pastored. I would go to visit her in the hospital and always leave feeling blessed by her. I would walk into the room with the buzzing machines, the harsh florescent lights and when she would see me she always reached over and grabbed her teeth and put them in her mouth and smiled a huge smile, this 80-pound woman.
“Pastor, how’s that beautiful wife of yours?” she’d ask. “And what about those boys? They are getting so big!”
We’d visit a while and then I could tell she was getting tired and I would make a move to leave and she’s say, “Pastor, can I pray for you?” Then she’d spend the next several minutes with her spindly arms up outstretched to her heavenly Father, and pray for me and my family.
A nurse came in one time while she was praying and Effie new she was in the room, so she started praying for the nurse, by name.
I left the room and then lingered just outside her room for a moment and heard her say to the nurse, “Honey, that’s my pastor. He’s a good man. He loves Jesus. Honey, do you love Jesus?”
She was the salt of the earth.
In the day-to-dayness of your life and when you bring joy, when you challenge somebody, when you listen, when you touch, when you hug, when you laugh, when you say “You matter,” when you give a gift, when you write a note, when you make a call, when you volunteer, when you say to somebody…
Honey, Jesus loves you, He would love to be your friend.
that is the revolutionary movement that Jesus started, that cost Him His life—that revolution has now spread around the globe—while empires, nations and civilizations have come and gone.
And so, my friend always remember that you are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. May you live this day to love God, love others, and serve the world.