‘Tis the season for colored lights, and delicious food! What better time for Christians to be salt and light in the world… but what does that really mean? For too many of us, it means that we should gently complement the world around us. After all, salt is just one of many spices in the rack, and light comes in lots of fun decorative colors. Shouldn’t Christians just provide a pinch of flavor to a larger multicultural stew, and let the light of the Church nicely accent the world’s furniture?
Well, salt is more than a flavor. Salt is a powerful chemical that removes impurities, kills germs, and acts as a preservative. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, salt was the difference between edible meat and poisonous meat. Salt is so valuable that it has historically been used like a currency (hence the term “salary”); not because it tastes good, but because it is a nutrient that humans literally can’t live without. Sodium deficiency causes seizures, memory loss, hyponatremic encephalopathy, and death if not treated by immediate administration of salt. Not cumin, cinnamon, or cilantro.
Likewise, light is more than just a dash of color in our home decor. No matter what we would like to believe about our world being gentle shades of grey, light and darkness are unmistakable opposites. Light is the first creation. It is impossible to overstate the importance of light, scientifically or figuratively, and there is no alternative. Light from the Sun provides this planet with all of its natural energy. Without its light, everything dies immediately. God’s Son is repeatedly referred to as the Light of the world in Scripture, and He provides the world with all hope. Without the power of God and the blood of His Son, everything dies eternally.
Obviously, how we think about salt and light will have a big impact on how we interact with others. If we knew that our neighbors were about to eat dinner without the perfect seasoning or the right mood lighting, we would probably just shrug. After all, unsalted meat isn’t the worst thing ever, and they’d probably rather we not interrupt their meal just to adjust their lampshades. However, if we knew that our neighbors were about to eat rotting meat in freezing darkness, we would instantly drop what we were doing to take them pure food, light and warmth. As Christians, our salt and light duty is to be more than mere condiments and candles.
But here is another great blessing of God: Salt is flavorful! Light is beautiful! In His love and mercy, God made these two vital requirements for life not just necessary chemical and energy processes, but wonderfully enjoyable parts of life! And so when Christ proclaims that Christians are the salt and light of the world, He commands us to communicate both the healing and preserving power of salt and its savor; the pure illuminative power of light, and its attractive beauty.
So as Heidi and I go caroling around the town square this year, we are going to be asking ourselves a simple question. Are we just trying to provide a nice bit of traditionally Christmas background music for a few holiday shoppers? Or are we proclaiming Christ’s Kingship over the world, and fully demonstrating the wonderful joy that the earth should receive Him in?