Is Christianity losing its relevancy? Maybe even outdated? No, it is just hard to see in a lot of us as Christians. Jesus said we are to be salt and light yet we either blend into the world or pour the salt in wounds and blind people. Can you spot the Christians around you just by their day-to-day behavior?
The last few months, I have been studying the Gospel events in chronological order. I was looking forward to the Sermon on the Mount and I finally arrived. It didn’t take long for some things to become apparent in the Beatitudes alone.
- They were directed at Christ-Followers on what we are to be like.
- The Beatitudes are our Be Attitudes or attitudes of being.
- They describe character traits, actions and what to expect in life.
- In tandem with Luke’s account, they contrast between a follower of Christ and worldview of society.
That is what makes us like salt and light.
I like using the Amplified version of the Bible to expand on the meanings of the ancient languages. Here is the link for Matthew 5: 1-16 so you can follow along in the Amplified→here.
So what is it like to be salt and light?
First, we are blessed. The translation’s definition summed up is filled with hope and joy despite our circumstances.
We Should Be…
- Without spiritual arrogance (poor in spirit)
- Saddened by our sins and turning away from them (those who mourn)
- Kind-hearted, gentle, and self-controlled (meek)
Because of this, we’ll be given the Kingdom of Heaven, comfort as our sins are lifted by Christ, and will inherit the world.
- Actively seek right standing with God (righteousness)
- Be compassionate and showing forbearance (merciful)
- Have and exhibit integrity, moral courage, and godly courage (pure in heart)
- Make and maintain peace (peacemakers)
How do these stand out in the world overall in comparison? How should we be standing out?
||Followers of Christ
|Puts themselves first.
||Joyfully put themselves last.
|Pleasure and happiness at any cost.
||Seek first the Kingdom of God
|Seeks power and control.
||Self-controlled, submits to Christ fully
|Pursues whatever they desire
||Thirst for God, putting him first
|Lacks compassion for others
||Shows compassion for others
|The end justifies the means
||Integrity and moral courage (salt and light)
|Not my problem
||Deals with the problem
|Makes weak commitments
||Stand by their commitments
Would you notice people acting like this? I would for sure, especially if it’s only a few doing it in a crowd. Here’s the rub though; we cannot do it. How can someone self-centered maintain putting themselves last for any length of time? Can you meet these standards? I know I can’t for sure.
How can we do it?
We don’t. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. First, He starts by making us more like Christ in our character. I go in depth about the process on my retired blog First Samuel here at How Can Anyone Be Good Enough to Represent Jesus? Those character traits I mentioned earlier are found in the Fruits of the Spirit, which I address in Workaholic or Worship.
The key is in answering this question. Are you trying to keep the rules yourself or are you filled with the Spirit?
If we rely on our own strength, it will fail. Jesus warned that apart from Him we could do nothing. In John 15: 1-11, Jesus tells us he is the vine that gives life to the branches. This means we aren’t alone in this.
Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon salvation to seal us for God. In John 16: 5-15, Jesus goes into part of what the Holy Spirit does for us. Paul in Ephesians 5: 6-16 told the church to emulate God and what that looks like. How it happens is in verses 17-18 that follows.
“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”
To be filled with the Spirit like wine. Wine affects our choices and the ability plus the courage to do things. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to choose along with the courage to act. It looks like this:
“13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Galatians 5: 13-25 NIV
Here are some resources to help you walk in the Spirit that helped me:
A Spirit-Empowered Life: Discover the World Changing Journey God has Designed for You
Immediate Obedience: The Adventure of Tuning into God
The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You
I have read these multiple times and will end my year reading them again. So what struggles have you had with being salt and light and standing out in the world?