Seven Steps to a Saltier Life

Written by Joel on February 7th, 2011

Feb 6, 2011
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Matthew 5:13-20


I believe that we as a congregation, and really all congregations strive to be places where disciples are developed. But what does it mean to be Christ’s disciples?

How are we Christ’s disciples? Is it what we believe? We proclaim the Apostles Creed each Sunday and it is our faith, is this what makes us Gods people? Is it by what we do that makes us disciples? – We gather together on Sundays to worship God, we may pray or read our bibles at home in groups or as individuals – is it by what we do? Is it by what we wear? – Some folks put a Jesus fish on their car – are they disciples?

In our Gospel reading today, Christ says that his disciples by definition are folks who make an impact on the world.

The Gospel reading comes from the section we call The Sermon on the Mount, and comes immediately after our Gospel reading from last Sunday – the Beatitudes. Listen to the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, chapter 5, verse 1 “Now When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them.” Then follows the lengthy sermon on the mount. Notice that Jesus retreated from the crowds, and took his disciples with him. This is message which is crafted specifically for his disciples. You, my disciples, are salt of the earth, You my disciples are the light of the world.

Hear those words… “you are.” Not act like salt, not act like light; You are. Do you hear the difference? Christ is not offering 10 steps to a more saltly life or 30 days to a more luminous you. The fact of the matter is salt and light describe so actuartely what you already are. Christ is saying to be a disciple of mine is by definition to be salt of the earth and light of the world. Disciples impact the world.

Those are two powerful images. Just think about the powerful imagine of salt. Salt is necessairy for the production of paper, for setting dyes in textiles and fabrics, and the making of soaps and detergents. Recipes require it, doctors say we have too much of it; WalMart vows to reduce it. This time of year, in this part of the country we know how useful salt is to keep our roads more safe during winter weather. Salt is amazingly versatile; and it is certainly not a passive ingredent – it affects and changes what it comes in contact with.

I remember one Christmas or Easter (some holiday) some years ago our family decided to cook a ham instead of our traditional turkey. We heard good things about Virginia hams so we thought we would give it a try. Only, none of us read the instructions – you can’t just put those things in the oven as they are. No one told us about that other use of salt – for preservation. You know (and I know now) that you’re supposed to soak a Virginia ham in water for a way long time to get all that excess salt out. I remember that holiday meal being so salty that it was crunchy! Salt certainly made a huge impact on that particular meal.

When Christ told his disciples that they are salt he had this in mind – salt affects everything it comes in contact with. Disciples! You have an impact on this world! You affect the world! What you do matters! Can salt lose it’s saltiness? No, of course not that’s ridiculous. I think I had the same can of salt through all of college and seminary; and if I had any left it would still have it’s saltiness 8 billion years from now. Salt is salty! That is its definition. Salt can’t lose it’s saltiness, that’s ridiculous…and Christ’s disciples can’t “not” impact the world, it’s in their nature; it’s part of their definition.

And to be a disciple, by this definition, also means that it impacts your entire life; being a disciple defines you. It orders your life, influencing how you think and act; and when Christ’s disciples live up to that definition they impact the world.

I have adopted a discipline of daily prayer. Morning and evening about 10 to 15 minutes each, and I follow a liturgy which many other Christians throughout the world also observe and so we join together, in the communion of the universal church in this discipline of prayer. I choose this discipline partly because it disciples me; but I really think it is (or at least ought to be) the other way around, I order my life by prayer because, as a disciple, my life is defined by Christ; morning and evening defined by how I will be salt and light, how I will allow Christ to lead me.

I have also started my Firefighter 1 class early this year. About every other Saturday, including yesterday we have a full day of training. Yesterday we started in Harrisonburg at 8:30am and finished around 4:30pm. Now I could have abandoned my discipline (do you hear the word disciple in there – discipline, disciple?) I could have abandoned my discipline of prayer for this one day (it’s just a day, right?) because it would have been awkward infront of the guys, it would have taken up too much of my breaks, it would have been difficult. But what then defines me as a disciple? I choose to bring my prayer book and find a quite corner to say my morning prayer when I found the chance.

Well, an interesting thing happened. At least three of my classmates, all at different times came up and asked me – “What is that book you are reading – it looks like a bible.” If you haven’t seen it, my prayer books do look an awful lot like a bible, with quite a few ribbons in it – either way certainly not an ordinary book and it drew folks attention. I explained to them how I have adopted a discipline of prayer because I am a Christian and scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. And it opened up some spiritual converstaion which I am just not sure would have happened otherwise. A classmate sharing with me how he had been hurt by the church, another how he was looking to get back in, and yet another who was searching for spiritual connection.

Salt affects the world. Disciples affect the world. No, I cannot say I was out there saving souls yesterday; but this discipline, because I strive to be a disciple affected the world – if for nothing else than to give others a glimpse of the light of the world.

So I invite you to question how does being a disciple define your life? What spiritual disciplines have you adopted; both to strive to be a disciple and also just because you are a disciple? (And if you need help, see me after the service). You, brothers and sisters ARE salt of the earth, light of the world. You leave this place of worship and you will make an impact on or world wherever you go; disciples matter! Disciples make a difference. Be the disciples you are!


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