13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
I know of some people who use this as an excuse for behaving like the world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it stated that ‘You’ve got to be like the world to reach the world.’ Even in churches this idea is prominent – but it’s so wrong! When someone comes to church, they’re looking for something they don’t already have. Therefore, if they come to a church with this ideology, they’re not going to think ‘Yes! This is what I need!’ They’re going to think ‘Why would I want this? They’re no different from me – I guess I’ll go look for something else.’
God came to earth to save the sinners, not be like them. We’re supposed to be salt and light – but by trying to be like the world, we’re doing exactly what Matthew is telling us not to do – we’re hiding our light under a bushel and losing our saltiness.
“But God ate with the tax collectors!”
Yes, he did. But he didn’t steal with them, or be sexually immoral with them. He remained on neutral ground; he did not sink to their level. Inviting non-Christian friends over to your house, or going to a game with them, those sort of things are neutral ground. But never, ever think you have to join and be like them to minister. If you’re just like them, then why will they feel the need to change? Don’t allow yourself to be dragged down to their level out of the desire to lift them up.
There was an illustration once, in one of the Christy books by Robin Jones Gunn. Christy and Katie are at youth group, and their youth leader calls Katie and another boy, ‘Peter,’ up front. He dubs them ‘Katie Christian’ and ‘Peter Pagan.’ He has Katie stand up on a chair, and hold her hand down to Peter.
“Try to pull him up,” he says.
Katie tries – but ends up getting pulled down by Peter.
This is an excellent example – bad company corrupts good morals. Be a shining light, be a ministering angel, be Christ to the world – but don’t allow yourself to become mired. Stay on neutral ground. It’s much easier to sink than the lift up, and as Christians we must remain examples to everyone else. This is much easier for homeschoolers like myself, I think, than people in public school. I have a very good friend (Heather G. from this blog, actually!) who is a shining example of being both salt and light where she is in High School. She remains a fantastic role model for non-Christians while not letting herself be dragged down. in fact, she has gotten several teens at her school interested in God and the Christian faith!
‘Bad company corrupts good morals’ isn’t just a pithy saying, it’s a Biblical truth. (1 Corinthians 15: 33)
In order to retain our saltiness and light, we must continually be in communion with the Lord. Pray without ceasing. Read your Bible. Read Godly, inspiring authors. One of my favorite things to do is read short passages and quotes from authors that I love that pertain to God and Godly principles. I have a special journal that I write these quotes and passages down in. (quoting is in the Neal blood; I quote all the time – movies, books, friends…)
I tend to love quotes from George MacDonald, C. S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton – though I’m always up for a new good quote by somebody I’ve never heard of before.
Another thing I like to do if I’m feeling particularly ‘unsalty’ is watch ‘Facing the Giants’ – sort of my ‘spiritual pick-me-up’ movie. It always inspires me to do better and live Christ.
I love to read fantasy allegories, too – the Dragons in Our Midst series is always faith-strengthening (though you might want to read my reviews on thebookfae.wordpress.com before reading them, as they aren’t age-appropriate for everyone).
Find the things that encourage your spiritual walk with God. they might seem silly, but the things that turn your eyes heavenward are never silly.
A final note – don’t think you can continue being salt and light to the world if you aren’t continually soaking up the rays of God’s light, or letting yourself be seasoned by his word. You MUST keep replenishing – daily! – if you wish to remain effective and not wander off the Straight and Narrow. A car can only go so far before it needs to be filled up with gasoline again, or else it stops!
Ever in Christ,