August 25, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“The Son of God radiates the glory of God and is the exact representation of His being thereby sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven returning as superior to the angels and bearing the name that is greater than theirs.” (Hebrews 1.3-4)
“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 and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5.13)
Yesterday, I mentioned in conclusion to the reflection on the superiority of Jesus Christ as both Son of Man and Son of God, that pursuing the truth of being a disciple of Christ is wise counsel, as in being “salt and light.” As those being clothed in righteousness, we ought to be committed to such counsel. The role of a disciple is not simply to “go and do,” as we have seen in the Great Commission Jesus bestowed on His followers. That “go and do” is to teach all that Jesus commanded and baptize those students who profess a belief in Jesus as the Christ with an immersive baptism of heart, mind, body and soul in the Spirit. We can also add to that “job description” the objectives of the Jesus’ reading in the Nazareth synagogue from the passage of Isaiah which is the basis of the “Jubilee” decree: The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4.18-19) And while we could take those descriptors and put them into literal effect, I believe that Jesus was speaking more to the spiritual affect of the Word. I say this because the story goes on to say that Jesus did little healing in Nazareth due to their lack of faith. This is when the good citizens of Nazareth turned against Jesus as He said “Surely you will say ‘Physician, heal yourself [a better rendering is ‘heal YOUR people meaning them]’ as well as ‘A prophet is not welcome in His own home’ with an illustration speaking of Elijah and Elisha who also were ‘ineffective’ in their hometowns. The result in Nazareth was a rebellion by a lynch mob seeking to drive Jesus to a cliff with stones in their hands and force Him over the edge. There would be no more homecoming celebrations at Nazareth High School after that!
I mention all of that to bring about a reflection on the modus operandi of our spiritual existence. The Church of today, virtually mimicking the world around it, is very caught up in the physical manifestations of “success and failure.” The push for more and more, bigger and better, stronger and more powerful, glitz and glamour and the promotion of self before others even when the means are seemingly of compassion and beneficence is “over the edge.” Those who don’t “see” it that way are apparently condemned with “you don’t understand.” The prosperity gospel and the social gospel are now rooted in such definitions of the physical and tangible that the spiritual has come little better than a minor agenda if it is on the agenda at all. The spiritual is proposed to be apparent in “the sign of the cross, the name of the organization or some pithy church saying.” But, what of the real purpose and intent of those truly clothed in righteousness? The true “clothing” is of the heart, mind, soul and spirit as the manifestation of the “body of Christ.” Are we the embodiment of faith or merely the appearance of faith? Honestly, just because someone has a “fish” sign on their bumper is no guarantee they are a true disciple seeking to mature to the level of Christ or that they have any intention of bearing witness to Him who died for the salvation of the world? When they forget to signal their intentions and bully their vehicle through traffic and “flip off” any who would disapprove or express their “love” in road rage the message would tend in a different direction. Well, maybe they hijacked the car from some poor Christ follower and left them stranded on the side of road for some Good Samaritan to render aid. Would seem there are plenty of wounded disciples then on the side of the road and not nearly enough Good Samaritans. So, it appears there is a need for some “wise counsel.” And Jesus offers some of that in His Sermon on the Mount. I have spent time reflecting on the “light” of such wisdom. But, Jesus added more to the “clothed in righteousness” equation with a lesson on “saltiness.” He draws a distinction between the two which we might miss if we see them only with an eye to the “external” instead of the internal applications.
I believe that as we reflect on the call to be “salt and light,” we may well appreciate more our calling to embrace the identity given to us as “a priesthood of all believers.” It comes in the application of the use of “salt and light” that Jesus directs those who are listening to His teaching to follow. I have already spoken to the use of light. Strange that Jesus includes a definition of what it is not to identify what it is. The easy definition of light is that it is not dark or it is the opposite of dark. The purpose of light is to illuminate and “be seen.” When Jesus urges the faithful to be light, be in the light, be filled with light, He is speaking of being those who bear witness to the truth which is the light of life. The knowledge of Jesus the Christ, Son of Man and Son of God, is critical to our understanding our own self. We are, after all, created in His image and recreated to image Him before all the world. As we increase in our faith knowledge of being “one in Christ,” the world benefits (sometimes kicking and screaming in rebellion against it) from the growing presence of Immanuel, God with us. There is a direct correlation to such rebellion as we saw in the casting out of Lucifer from the heavenly realm of God’s Kingdom. The darkness hates the light. Darkness flees from the light and chases it down with the sole purpose (spiritually speaking- the soul intention) of consuming it. If we see a rebelling against the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ, it is simply the manifestation of “those in darkness as those without the truth or those who refuse the truth of the truth fleeing from the light which gives knowledge and insight to the presence of God’s truth in and for the world.” Isn’t this paradigm established from before the creation of the world? In both Genesis, Isaiah and John, the mention of “light” is purposeful and the mention of “darkness” is pointed. Dark is chaos and consuming. Light is order and life-giving. Propoganda disintegrates order. Gospel promotes order. Lies manifest darkness. Truth manifests enlightenment. There is little wonder why we are called to dwell as those who live in the light pursuing the light of the world. The light of the world is Jesus and the truth is the gospel message. We are called, therefore, to be “light bearers” to the world. How do we know we are light bearers? Because we refuse to hide ourselves under a bowl or bushel basket. We see no future in “being in the dark.” Our hope is to dwell in the light, the glory of God and let His truth be in us emanating from our soul through the windows of our eyes. It is at that point, that our personal witness, or how we “see” things, becomes a critical element in how we present our lives before God as a living sacrifice of love. There the truth of what Jesus said becomes evident and relevant “No greater love is there than this but that a person [read “in whom the light of life exists”] lay down their own live for the sake of another [read “that they may be saved, too.”]
But, knowledge of the gospel is not enough. If “possession is nine-tenths of the Law,” then that remaining one-tenth is not insignificant but critical to our understanding of the gospel. I will shed some light on that thought tomorrow. Until then, be the light of the world and allow the glory of God to shine from you so that others may see the light of truth and come to the saving knowledge of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Shalom!
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Giver of light, life, hope and joy, receive our thanksgiving for the truth which You have made known to us in the Word, Jesus the Christ. As we feast upon that Word, may our nourished souls rejoice, our sated desires be refined and our supplied lives be empowered to “go and do” as Jesus commanded us to do in love. AMEN.