In Matthew 5, Jesus stood on a mountainside with His disciples and captured the attention of a diverse crowd who had been following Him. The message He shared with them was extremely important. So important that it’s worth reading a large portion of it together. Don’t skip over this passage. Listen to Jesus’ words as if He is talking to you, because He is.
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:13–16 msg)
God calls us to be salt and light. He calls us to be influential. Kingdom influence is not preferential; it is all-inclusive. This is where we live beyond ourselves and love beyond our preferences. Kingdom influence means we can add our personal, cultural flavor no matter what environment we are in. We add to the flavor no matter what pot we are in. We were designed in such a way that although we are meant to be with others, we do not lose ourselves.
Have you ever bitten into a raw onion? Nasty, right?
The true power of the onion is evoked when it is cut and cooked to add to the flavor of other ingredients. On its own it is nowhere near as great as it is lending its strength to other ingredients that may look, smell, or taste nothing like it. But when you cut the onion and add it to the roux as part of the holy trinity with green peppers and celery, you have something so much deeper, better, and pleasing. That original onion is not lost at all; if anything, its flavor is enhanced by its collaboration.
Salt is also necessary because a little bit of salt awakens everything that is present but lying dormant. Salt enhances—it brings other things to the surface. Salt influences. Salt has the capacity to be a powerful and compelling force, to make the ordinary extraordinary. It can change and affect anything it is paired with. It enhances flavor. Without salt many foods are bland and tasteless. We are God’s flavors and colors. Which is why Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth.
Different people—God colors.
Different cultures—God flavors.
I love that Jesus referenced salt in speaking of our purpose. He literally said that our value is determined by the value we bring out of others. Not in what we have, not in what we look like, not even in how we worship Him, but in how we treat others. And in how we treat others that are not like us.
Being in relationships with those who are different from us is the first step. Unity is the next step. In order to get to this next step, we must value one another. We must value what makes us different. We must value one another’s experiences. We must value the work that God is doing in the person across the room or across the globe.
We must be salt and light.