Salt and Light: Christian Influence on Society (Matthew Sermon 10 of 151)
March 14, 1999 | Andrew Davis
Fullness in Christ, Gospel and Ethics
Take your Bibles, if you would, and turn in them to Matthew, chapter five. As we continue in our series in Matthew's Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount, we come to two great statements that Jesus makes about you. "You," [He said,] "are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world."
It was the winter of 1699, and a stately trading ship, a sailing vessel, was sailing along the southern coast of England, 300 years ago this month. As she approached the Eddystone portion of the coastline, the ship's captain tensed. His navigator announced that they were nearing the infamous Eddystone reef, which had caused untold wrecks over the years, costing hundreds of sailors their lives and sending thousands of pounds worth of cargo to the bottom of the English Channel. Now the reef consisted of a cluster of rocky pinnacles just below the surface, invisible to the eye, but deadly to the hulls of wooden sailing vessels. The captain knew that the reef, nine miles off the shore of England, was at its worst in the winter, especially during foggy weather. Suddenly, his watchman called out, "There's a light just off the starboard side, Captain." The captain stared through the fog at a glowing beacon and, suddenly, he realized that the rumors that he had heard were true. Somebody had actually built a lighthouse on the Eddystone reef. That lighthouse saved his life that night, as he ordered the navigator to sale wide around it. The Eddystone lighthouse was built by Henry Winstanley in 1698 and it was one of the greatest achievements of civil engineering in history. It was the first lighthouse built fully exposed to the sea, nine miles off the shore. The light keepers lived there all winter long and their job was to keep the light alive by replacing the 60 candles as they burned down. How many times do you think that they had to replace those candles? And there was also a great big hanging lantern with a big fire in it and they had to keep it burning, while at the same time, preserving their own lives from the threat of fire. Those light keepers in that lighthouse risked their lives that winter, in Winstanley's lighthouse. But the winter of 1699 was the first in centuries that there were no shipwrecks on the Eddystone reef.
Now what difference did that lighthouse make to that ship that night? It made the difference between life and death, between financial prosperity for the investors and ruin. It made all the difference in the world. And in effect, Jesus, when he calls us “the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world,” is saying to us, “You should make a difference.” There should be a difference in the world because you are in it. When people come and interact with you, there should be a difference, an impact made by you because of their interaction with you. Because in both analogies, “you are the salt of the earth,” “you are the light of the world,” Jesus lists dangers that the effect will be muted, the effect will be neutered, that there will be no impact.
I. Christ’s Teaching Technique
Who is He talking to? He is talking to the people about whom the Beatitudes are true. We have talked about the Beatitudes, the characteristics of members of the Kingdom of Heaven. It began by saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, [spiritual beggars,] for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Runs all the way to the end where it says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." In between are a series of character traits that we have been looking at carefully over these last many weeks. And we have seen that these character traits are to characterize every Christian. There is brokenness, humility, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness and after God. There is a mercy that flows from those individuals. There is purity of heart and a willingness to go out and be persecuted as long as they can be peacemakers in the world. That is who we are talking about. And He is saying, of those people, the people that that is true of, those people “are the salt of the earth.” Those people “are the light of the world.”
And in this way, Jesus is using His significant teaching technique. It is a remarkable thing. He takes earthly examples, earthly things that we can understand, that we interact with all the time, and uses it to teach us spiritual truth. Salt… How many of you go through a day without interacting with salt? Probably none of you do. And I know that none of you can even survive without light, as we will make clear later on, even if you are blind. It is something we can understand. And this is the way that Jesus teaches. He is taking things that we can understand from everyday life and He is teaching us spiritual truth with it.
He did the same thing with Nicodemus when He was explaining about being born again. He takes something that we experience all the time, birth, and says your conversion to Me, your entrance into the kingdom of heaven is like a birth. Nicodemus didn't understand. You remember, in John 3, Jesus says, "I have spoken to you of earthly things [in earthly language]," would be one translation. "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe. How then will you believe if I speak of [in] heavenly things [language]?" He certainly wouldn't get it then. Jesus talks of salt and light, things we can understand, and He says, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it up on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." That is Jesus' lesson to us.
In both cases, both the salt and the light, there is to be an impact. But there is a danger that the impact will be lost. The salt could lose its saltiness. The light could be hid under a bowl. So Jesus is challenging us, as Beatitude Christians to make all the difference, the same difference that the Eddystone lighthouse made to that ship that night. We are to have an impact on the world.
II. “Salt of the Earth” (verse 13)
Let's look at the first analogy carefully, "You are the salt of the earth," verse 13. Now, we interact with salt pretty much in one way these days. But, back in Jesus' day, there were two major things that salt did for them. The first, in the days before refrigeration, salt was a preservative. As soon as you killed an animal, a cow or sheep, or something, the meat began to deteriorate especially in that climate, so that within hours it was border-line whether it was safe to eat or not. But the ancients found that, if you rub salt into the meat, or into fish, you could retard, you could slow down the decay process enough, so that the food would be still good to eat much later. And so in this way, they learned to preserve food.
I didn't really know how salt retards corruption so I looked it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica. I have to learn these things. I am constantly learning new things, but apparently what the salt does, is it prevents the moisture, which carries the bacteria, from spreading from place to place. There is bacterium in one place and, without the salt, it is going to move all the way through that flesh. It is going to multiply. It is going to grow. But, with the salt, it does not spread quickly. It stays where it is. Now, if you eat salted meat a long time later, it's bad. It doesn't totally get rid of the corruption, but it retards the process, slows it down and, in this way, it acts as a preservative. But this was before refrigeration. Therefore, you can see how valuable salt was in their lives. If they ever wanted to eat meat, they had to eat salted meat or they had to slaughter it and then eat it right away, right that day.
Jesus, of course, is teaching us a spiritual truth here. He is not so much talking about salt as He is talking about a spiritual truth behind it. We, as Christians, are to make an impact on the world, on the society, on the culture around us. That impact is to be significant, as significant as the impact of that salt is on the corruption spreading through that meat. We are to be somewhat of a preservative in the surrounding culture. Now, sin has a decaying effect on society, doesn't it? It has a decaying effect on individual people. It rots us and, since society is made up of people, sin can spread and it can rot a whole society. Christians are to make an impact in slowing that process down. You know that in the days before the Flood, in the days before Noah, every single inclination and thought of the human heart all the time was only evil, and so judgment had to come. God being Holy, He brought judgment. The same thing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. The corruption had gotten to such a great level, such a great depth at that point, that judgment was going to come. It was inevitable. Jesus is saying that the effect of beatitude Christians, on the surrounding culture, is to slow that process down. Why? It is so that the work of the Gospel can continue to spread, so that the influence of the Gospel can move, because, if the corruption goes too quickly, there is nothing that the people can do. There is no opportunity to share the Gospel. Judgment must come. There is anarchy in the streets; there is no peace, people stealing things from you, murdering you in the streets because the corruption has gotten to that level. Christians have a retarding influence on that corruption. We slow it down.
America today is accelerated down a road of corruption. We all know it is true. We can see it. We see things on television. We read about things that we did not see 20 years ago. We should be shocked. The sad thing is we are not shocked, because the thing has been done in a cunning manner by the one who did it, namely Satan, and all his evil hordes. But as we look around us, we see the avenues of the corruption, the media for example, television, satellite TV, we see the internet. All of these things accelerate the transfer of information, don't they? But, if that information is corrupting, then it also accelerates the spread of corruption.
Christians are to be salt and light. They are to be salt in that they retard that decay process. But let's not make a mistake here. Things have to be kept in perspective. About 100 years ago, Christians got confused about their mission in the world and they began to think that the only thing that mattered was doing this kind of salting in society. They were out there affecting society, opening up orphanages and hospitals, feeding the needy, giving to the poor, etcetera. And these were ministries that were commanded by Christ and by Scripture. But what did they lose? They lost the effect of preaching the Gospel. They no longer saw that it was necessary. They came to be called, in later years, social gospelers. In other words, they said that regeneration through faith in Christ was not necessary. We don't need to preach the Gospel. What we need to do is have an influence in society around us and, in this way, we will bring in the Kingdom. Well, it never happened. We cannot go too far and say that the sum total of all we are to be as a church is salt in society in this regard, that we retard corruption. However, it is an important ministry the church is to do. The church is to make a difference in the spread of corruption around us. Because this church is here, because First Baptist Church is here, the society around us should be influenced. There should be an impact, and that impact should be to retard or to slow down the decay process.
Salt is not just a preservative. I would dare say that most of us do not interact with salt that way. How do you interact with salt? Well, it is on your table, right? It is in a salt shaker and you put it on your food. How many of you enjoy McDonald's fries without salt? I will go back to the McDonald's. I will go back to the drive-through and say... And I'll try to say it nicely… I would say, "I asked for salt. Would you mind giving me a few little packets? I can't eat fries without the salt." And why is this? It is because it does not taste the same. Salt is a flavor enhancer, isn't it? It brings out the flavor of the fries, and whatever else is in a fry. I do not want to know what is in a fry. But I like them. They taste good. And they taste better with salt, don't they? Can you think of other foods that just taste better when they are salted? There are just a number of them. Salt is a flavor enhancer.
And the same was true back in biblical days, as well. Listen to Job 6:6. I bet you thought I would never find a verse about this, but it is in there. Job 6:6 says, "Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill." Look it up, Job 6:6: you have to salt the egg white or else you will not taste it. That is what Job said. Salt is a flavor enhancer.
There is a story from the Arabian Nights about a Sultan who had three daughters and he wanted his daughters to come before the entire court, and to give expressions of love for him. He was an egomaniac, I think. "Come and tell me how much you love me." And so the first, the eldest daughter came and said, "You are the apple of my eye." Well that was old, but maybe back then it was not old, maybe it was new. "You are the apple of my eye, you are what I like to look at the most." The second daughter said something poetic like, "You are a fragrant breeze blowing across the garden." Well, that sounded good too. The third daughter, however, looked at him and she was the shrewdest, most clever of the three, and she said, "You are the salt in my food." And he was insulted by this. He thought, "This is terrible, how could you say this in front of all these people." He was angry and he told her to go out, go out from the court. Several weeks later she had the opportunity to demonstrate what she meant. She connived with the cook and said, "I want to cook his favorite meal but I am going to cook it my way." And so she cooked the meal, his favorite dish, without salt and she served it to him without any salt on the table. But she wore a veil. He did not know who she was, and he ate the food and it tasted just like Job said, "It tasted tasteless." There was something missing, and then she came in and she presented him with a gold tray and a little container of salt with the spoon, and he salted the food and it tasted good. At that moment she removed the veil and said, "Father, you are the salt in my food." And then he understood. Without salt, it was tasteless.
What does that have to do with us? I believe that sin has a deadening effect on the soul. I believe the longer you go on in sin, the less anything tastes to you. Life becomes black and white. It becomes grayscale rather than colorful. That is what sin does. We should not think of it as an accident, it is what Satan intends. Do you understand that God created pleasure? He created pleasure. He created your tongue with different kinds of taste buds to taste different types of flavors. He created your eye to see and discern millions of different shades, subtle shades of color. God is a God of pleasure. We think that pleasure is evil, but what Satan does is he hijacks certain pleasures to entice you into patterns of sin. But what he wants to do as soon as possible is get the pleasure out of it, because pleasure is dangerous, it leads to God, He is the giver of it.
And so this is what he does. In The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis talked about this whole thing. Have you ever read The Screwtape Letters? It is remarkable. It is a training manual from an older demon to a younger demon on how to entice people like you and me into sin. And what the older demon, Screwtape, said to Wormwood, his little nephew, is, he said, "Whenever we're dealing with pleasure, we're in the enemy territory," enemy being God. Everything is backwards in The Screwtape Letters. So he says pleasure is enemy territory, "Any pleasure is God's. This is what you want, Wormwood, an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure. That's the winning formula." An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the law of diminishing returns and so, life begins to taste like nothing.
I have a testimony about that from the great Charles Darwin. Have you ever heard of Charles Darwin? He was the one who started the whole Theory of Evolution over a hundred years ago. And this is what he wrote, "Up to the age of 30 or beyond it, poetry of many kinds gave me great pleasure. And even as a school boy, I took intense delight in Shakespeare. Formerly pictures gave me considerable and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. I tried to read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music. I retain some taste for fine scenery but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness." That was near the end of his life. I do not think it was an accident. Satan was pulling pleasure away from him little at a time until he was nothing but a man who knew nothing about God, or the God who gave pleasures.
How are Christians to make an impact on this? We know Jesus Christ. We know the Good Shepherd, and what did the Good Shepherd say? In John 10:10, "I have come that they may have life and might have it abundantly." We have a joy that the world cannot understand, a joy that is infectious, a joy that creates a hunger and a thirst for something more. And when we move through the world and people interact with us, there is something contagious about us in a positive way. There should be anyway, because we are rejoicing in the Lord in all circumstances and we can create a thirst for God by that kind of salty living. It has to do with the way we talk. In Colossians 4:6 it says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone." Isn't that a great verse? Let the way you carry yourself and let your talk be “full of grace, seasoned with salt”. There should be something of Christ in everything you say. Something of Christ in the way you live your life that causes people to want get close to Jesus.
Here is a great story of the conversion of John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrims Progress. He was not a believer; he was actually a blasphemer, he says. And he went around from place to place fixing pots and pans; he was what was known as a tinker. He was in a kitchen one day and he overheard four neighborhood women, and they were talking. They did not know that he was listening, but they were talking. And do you know what they were talking about? They were talking about the glories of God's salvation through grace in Jesus Christ. That was the topic of their conversation and also how unworthy they were in their sin and the pleasures of heaven and how they could not wait to be there. Bunyan wrote, "They spake as if joy did make their heart speak." Joy was moving them to talk. Now, if they had been gossiping about a neighbor, do you think that Bunyan would have come to faith in Christ that day? He did come to faith in Christ that day. If they had been gossiping about a neighbor, what would have happened? It would have been just four women gossiping. What if they had been complaining about the high price of eggs? That would have been four women complaining. But instead they let their conversation be “full of grace, seasoned with salt”, and someone was saved. And his work transformed more lives than just about anyone of his generation, John Bunyan. "Let your conversation be full of grace."
What is the danger to all this? The danger is that the salt may lose its saltiness. How does salt lose its saltiness? Well, actually sodium chloride salt is very stable. It does not lose its saltiness. But what happens is it gets adulterated, mixed with other things like sand or dirt or other things, and it becomes useless. Jesus says, "It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men." In the same way, the church which gets mixed up with worldly ideas, worldly pleasures, worldly entertainment, worldly way of life is useless. It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out. Can I tell you that in church history, thousands of local churches like ours have been thrown out as useless? May it never happen to this church. If we do not lose our saltiness, it won't. And the sad thing is we get drawn into the world... We get drawn into worldly things because we want to please them. We want to avoid the persecution that Jesus just got done talking about, so we become like the world. And what ends up happening? The world does what to us? It tramples us. It is no longer good for anything except be thrown out, and trampled by men. We are trampled. We are useless to anybody.
The salt must not lose its saltiness. We must continue to be salty. There must be a radical difference between us and the world. And only if there is will there be power for conversion in that local church. Only as we separate from the world and become more and more different, salty, will we see people come to faith in Christ. We will see people walking down the aisles; we will hear testimonies throughout the week of people coming to faith in Christ. Why? It will be because you and I were salt that week. We were different, and we left an impact. Only through revival, only through the moving of the Spirit can we have this kind of pervasive influence in society again. Do you pray for revival? Do you pray that God would make us salty again? Jesus asks a haunting question, doesn't He? If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? And then the convicting judgment, it is good for nothing. The implication is we should be good for something. And that something is a tremendous impact on the world.
III. “Light of the World” (verse 14-16)
The second analogy He uses in verses 14 through 16 is “the light of the world”. He says, "You are the light of the world." Now salt, its influence is invisible. You cannot see it; it is just there. But light is everywhere, and we see it all the time, piercing and radiant, bringing color into our eyes. What does light do? Light brings information, doesn't it? Light also brings energy. Light brings those two things, information and energy to us. Without it, we get neither.
It is strange that Jesus calls us the light of the world, isn't it? That is because He Himself claimed to be the light of the world. He says in John 8:12, He says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." So how is it that Jesus says, "I am the light of the world," but then He calls us “the light of the world”? Well, we are His light in His place. Jesus said, "While I am in the world, I'm the light of the world." There was a time coming when He would leave the world, and He would leave us behind as His light to shine in the dark place.
It says in Ephesians 5:8, "You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." And it says Philippians 2:15-16, that we are like stars shining “in the universe as you [we] hold out the word of life.” We are stars shining in His place as we offer the gospel in this dark place. Now, how did we who were darkness at one point, how did we come to be light in the Lord? Well, that is the miracle of conversion. At one point, we were dead in our transgressions and sins as we followed the kingdom of darkness it says in Ephesians 2. We were darkened in our understanding and separated from the life of God. Because of the darkness, there was ignorance in our minds and in our hearts. But then the Holy Spirit came and opened our hearts powerfully in a miracle of conversion, and light shone inside us. The light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and we came to faith in Christ. We were converted from darkness to light.
And so it says in Colossians 1:13 that, "He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of light, into the kingdom of the Son He loves." You were transferred. Do you remember the day that you were moved over? Do you remember the day of your transfer? I remember my day. Before that, it was darkness. I did not know God. He did not live in my heart; but then one day, I came to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, how He had died on the cross, how He shed his blood in my place. And I understood that if I had faith in Him, I would have eternal life. I would be rescued and brought over into light, and it has been light ever since. So we are the light of the world if we know Jesus. He is the light of the world first, and His light shines through us.
Light, just like salt, has a variety of ministries. Salt had a negative and a positive ministry, didn't it? It had a negative and a positive influence. Negatively, salt retarded corruption and was a flavor enhancer, negative and positive. So also light has a negative and a positive side to its ministry. Negatively, light exposes or reveals or shines on danger or evil. Positively, it shows the way; it illuminates beauty and produces fruit. Let's look at these one at a time.
First, we will look at light in terms of exposing danger. Near Louisville, Kentucky, there is something called the Mammoth Caves. It is an expansive cave system, one of the largest in the world. And during the early days of exploration, they did not understand just how deep and how expansive was the cave system. Some spelunkers (those are cave explorers) went in with insufficient lighting. And at one point, the lights went out. Now they had paid out ropes, so that they would be able to get back in, but in going back to the opening, one of them lost their way and fell into a 60 foot deep pit to their death. And why did this happen? Because they could not see, the light was gone; it had gone out. And so there was danger all around them, and they could not see it.
Jesus alluded to this exact same thing when He talked about the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He says, "They are blind men leading blind men." If blind lead the blind, both will fall into a what? They will fall into a pit. There is danger when there are no lights. And so also, we as the light of the world expose danger, don't we? We do that through the preaching of the gospel. It says on the day of Pentecost, of Peter, at the end of his preaching, "With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'" He is acting as light to expose danger, and what is the danger? It is called Judgment Day.
On Judgment Day, we will have to stand accountable for everything we have ever said and done. And if we do not have the atoning blood of Jesus Christ paying for our sins, we will spend eternity separated from God, in Hell. This is the clear teaching of Christ; it is the clear teaching of the Bible; we, through the preaching of the clear teaching, we are exposing danger, we are warning people of what is to come. The wrath of God is coming; flee from it through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
We also, however, expose evil. As we act as light in the world, we show up evil around us; we do not necessarily do it on purpose, we do not point it out, but it becomes apparent just by how we live. We expose the evil of people who do not love God. And we bring them to a decision point, we become that fork in the road; people have to decide what they are going to do with their sin. And so it says in Ephesians 5, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible." We expose evil by the lives we live. So that is the negative side.
The positive side of that is that we show the way. Just as in the darkness that cave explorer fell 60 feet to his death. If he had had the light, he would have seen the safe way. Is there a safe way through this world of sin? Yes there is, His name is Jesus Christ. For He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." We are His witnesses; we point to Christ, we say, "Follow Him, He'll bring you to the Father. Follow Jesus!" We are lighting the way in that way, and by our own following of Christ, by the fact that we are walking after Him as His disciples, we are showing the way as well; we are showing the way.
We do not just show the way though, as we preach it, as we live it, we are also pointing to other light; specifically the Scripture. It says in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." I think of Mammoth Cave when I think of that, Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Without it, I will fall into a pit, but with it, I will know which way to go. And we, as the light of the world, we testify by speaking the words of Scripture. That is all I ever try to do on Sunday morning or in other times, I am just trying to show the light that is in God's Word. That is all. We show the way, and the way is in Scripture.
Finally, our on-going fellowship with one another is a form of light, isn't it? It says in 1 John 1:7, "If we walk in light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin." So our fellowship with one another is a form of light. People come into our midst and they can see Christ with us. The light does not just show the way, it also illuminates beauty. If I were to ask you to close your eyes and imagine a sunset over the Grand Canyon, with all of the colors of that painted desert, all of the deep crevices that the Colorado River has cut in there; can you imagine the beauty that is there, that God put there, that you could not see, if you had never been able to see, if you were blind? How would you ever explain it to a blind man? How would you explain to a blind man the difference between red and green, could you do it in words? It is impossible.
See, light comes and gives us information about the beauty of the world around us, doesn't it? I like to think of us as the light of the world in this way: We are like prisms. A prism is a triangular piece of glass that takes light and breaks it up into different colors. Have you ever seen one? Well, sure you have, you have seen a prism. After every rainstorm, when you look up and you see God's prism up in the sky, it's called the rainbow, and the light comes through the moisture in the atmosphere, and it breaks out to different colors: red, and orange, yellow, green and blue, indigo and violet. They are so beautiful.
We take God's character, His spiritual nature, and we break it out for people to see. They can see different aspects of God in the things we do. We let our lights shine, so that people can see our good deeds and praise God. They get to know God by watching us; they see perhaps His compassion in the way we minister to people who are needy. They see His patience in the way we deal with those people. They see His holiness in the way we put sin to death, and the way we walk through this world unstained, unpolluted by it. They see different aspects of God when they look at us. “You are the light of the world;” we are like prisms.
It says in I Peter 2:9, "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness, into His wonderful light." In other words, as you move through this life speaking about God, imitating Jesus Christ, you are explaining what God is like to a dark world; they do not know it, apart from us. “You are the light of the world.” That perfect process will be seen in Heaven.
In Heaven, according to the book of Revelation, you ought to read it for yourself, in Revelation 21, there are 12 walls, 12 walls and 12 foundations, each stone has a different color. You have one perhaps catching the light of God. And there is no light in the city except the glory of God. Catching the light of God and refracting it to be red, or perhaps green, or maybe yellow. And in the same way God's perfection, His character revealed in heaven as it shines through us.
The final ministry of light is in producing fruit. Do you know what I am talking about when I say that light produces fruit? Have you ever heard of photosynthesis? Well, you do not need to have heard of it before to realize that you would not be alive today if it were not for it. As a matter of fact, you could not understand what I am saying. Do you know that there is energy in your brain? It comes from the food that you ate. There is a biological energy that comes from eating. The sugars, the carbohydrates, get up in you and you are able to think. That is why you have to have a good breakfast before a test or something like that, so that you can think. Well, where do you think that food came from? It came from photosynthesis. It came from light hitting a leaf somewhere, or many leaves. And the combination of light plus carbon dioxide and water turned into sugar ultimately into fruit, maybe a pear. Maybe just something a cow likes to eat, and you ate the cow. But the point is that all life comes from photosynthesis.
Now who is it that put together fruitfulness and light? God did it. God did it. Well Paul puts it together for us in Ephesians 5. He says, "The fruit of the light," stop right there, “the fruit of the light.” So he put them together too. Fruit comes from light. “The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.” In other words, as you imitate God as you follow Him, you are going to be shedding out light which will produce fruit. The opposite is true as well. Ephesians 5:11 challenges us to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.” Darkness produces no fruit. Light produces fruit. So, what does this mean? As you live your life in front of, for example, other Christians they will see your good deeds, praise your Father in Heaven and fruit will come in their lives. We shine the light for one another. When a brother or a sister challenges me with a word of Scripture, or an example, something the way they do, the way they pray, fruit comes in my life. “You are the light of the world.”
Now how do we let our light shine? That would be a whole other sermon, to go through a list of ways to let your light shine. It all comes down to this. Jesus summed it up by calling it good deeds. "They may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." And as you do good deeds. What is it? It is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit as He shows you the way. It says in Ephesians 2:10 "We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do." Every day you wake up and He has a list of good works for you to do. As you do them under the leadership of the Spirit, “you are the light of the world.” “You are the light of the world.”
Follow the leadership of the Spirit and do your good deeds. The whole point of this is that we should be open and obvious. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. God lit us and put us up high on a stand. Do not complain that everyone in your office, for example, is watching you all the time to see if you are really a consistent Christian. Rejoice in it! God did that. He lit the light in you, and He is putting it up on a stand for everyone to see. Do not chafe under it. Realize that you are the light of the world.
Now by way of application I just want to ask you two questions. Are you living up to the calling you have received? It says we should make every effort to live up to the calling we have received. Are you living up to it? Are you salt and light? When people interact with you, do they see a difference in you? Or do you just laugh at the same jokes, think the same thoughts, and follow in the same way as everyone else? We are to be world changers. We are to make an impact.