SALT & LIGHT

Part 3 - Matthew 5:13-16

 

 

In his essay, “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis calls this longing with

which we are created our "inconsolable secret." He describes it as "the

sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to

be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that

yawns between us and reality..." People resist this longing for God by

trying to fill it in a variety of other ways, such as worldly success or

fame, having power over others, avoiding suffering, etc. They do not

usually connect their drives and their dreams with a longing after their

Creator. But that they are created with this desire for God is the truth

of who they are nonetheless. Lewis goes on to say, "Apparently, then our

lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the

universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some

door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic

fancy, but the truest index of our real situation."

 

 

So how might we, as salt and light, lose our saltiness or hide our

light? From the context it seems that this happens when we resist being

poor in spirit, meek, mourning, and so on. When we study the beatitudes,

we notice that the characteristics that Jesus calls blessed are very

uncomfortable to be or remain in, mainly because they are not

characteristics that the world recognizes as blessed. It is difficult to

remain in a place of recognizing one's poverty of spirit. The world

tells us to be self-sufficient and autonomous. To live in one's poverty

of spirit is to remain in the position of recognizing you cannot give

yourself life and so you are ready to receive it from God. When this is

not given any support by the world around us, we are tempted to resist

and turn away from this work of God in our lives, to "toughen up" so

that we fit in better. But when we turn away, we no longer point to God

and His goodness and grace, as so we are not salty. To long for God is

to be blessed by God and to be blessed by God is to be a blessing to

this lost world.

 

 

Jesus last statement in this section is a command, just as his last

statement in the previous beatitude section is a command. "Let your

light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give

glory to your Father who is in heaven." Jesus is telling His followers

that as light, they need to let their light shine in such a way that

people see it and give glory to God. Now usually if we are "letting our

light shine" what we might expect is that people give us glory. They see

our good works and they praise us because we did them. How is it that we

do our good works so that people instead recognize and praise God

because of them? Well I think the answer lies in the command Jesus gave

in the previous section. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great

in heaven..." Are we to live in our poverty of spirit, our meekness and

mourning, in a defeated or stoic way? Is our focus to be on our state of

longing? No, rather it is to be on where we are going, the wonder that

this is a pointer to our true home and not our eternal state. We mourn

over the deep evil and loss of this world freely in the context of

knowing that God will one day provide us with full comfort. We can be

meek and resist evil here on this earth and rejoice knowing that one day

all will be made just and right. We can look to see how God is truly

connected to all things because someday He will reveal to us just how

true that is.

 

 

Jesus is not calling for us to will ourselves into a state of fake

happiness. We are not to pretend life here is fun when it isn't or that

our losses are not painful and at times devastating. We are to mourn and

weep and suffer with the suffering that living in a place that is not

our home inevitably brings. As we continue to follow Jesus our lives

here will not get easier. In fact, I find that the longings, the

mourning, the hungering, just gets deeper and deeper. I feel less at

home here than I did many years ago. Have struggled greatly through this

past year? I know many who are in difficult circumstances right now.

 

 

The blessing is that we long for comfort, peace, righteousness. We long

for the presence and joy of our heavenly Father. These longings are from

Him and they tell us that this world is not our home and these

circumstances are not the final word about who we are and what life is

really about. We rejoice and are glad not about what is currently

happening, but that our reward is great in heaven. This deep joy and

hope in what God is doing in and around us is what leads others to

glorify God when they see our good works, our lives lived out through

our in confidence in His faithfulness.

 

David Jones with excerpts from CD