Reading this week Matthew 5:13-20
Right through this Sermon on the Mount Jesus nowhere talks about greatness, success or power in their everyday worldly meaning. Jesus talks about character – a Christian, God-centred and transparent character – that makes a difference to the world in which we live.
This distinctive living – salt, light, righteousness – in a wrong-way-round world is Jesus’ plan for His disciples. This right-way-round living is not simply meant to benefit the Jesus-follower, or gain merit with God, or even just to be held up as an example, it is intended to influence the surrounding society and improve its quality and character. Disciples are seen as people who are themselves changed and then go on in some way to change society for the better.
v13 .You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
Daniel is an excellent example of being a salty person in a decadent society. He had been uprooted from Jerusalem and taken off to Babylon as a captive Hebrew slave. There he was selected for ‘Higher Education’, (vv 4-5) a three year training course to equip him to be a civil servant in the royal palace. At the end of the course Daniel and his three friends topped the charts (vv 19-20) and began lives in positions of influence. If you were to read on to the end of chapter 2 you find all four men promoted to the highest offices in the land and in positions of authority. Moreover, Daniel makes it clear that his knowledge and wisdom are God-given (2:27-28), which leads King Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge God’s sovereignty ‘ The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.” ‘ (2:47)
It is women and men of this calibre that I long to see in leadership positions in our own nation today. It is immensely hard for such people to live up to their faith-beliefs, but when they do they become salt in our less-than-happy society. They will be tested and taunted as these four friends were, (remember the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den, and his three friends in the burning, fiery furnace) but they emerged as upright influencers for good.
Pray that there will be individuals prepared to stand up and speak up for God in our generation and that their influence as ‘salty’ people will be significant.