Focal Passage: Matthew 5:1-16
Have you ever noticed that the Christian life is a bit like a new house? When you first purchase the house you are most enamored by things such as the size of the rooms, the layout, and the beautiful exterior. But if the plumbing stops working or the foundation shifts, you suddenly realize there are more important aspects of the house. Similarly, new Christians tend to focus on their wonderful circle of new friends and the absence of the pains of the old life. While these things are certainly important, people who don’t go deeper in the faith tend to fall out of fellowship with the local church. Knowing that even a lost person could sustain an outward remodeling for a season, Jesus urged His hearers to focus on the inward realities of the Christian life that no one could successfully counterfeit. For example, a person who pretends to be a Christian can exchange one lifestyle for another, but he cannot demonstrate absolute dependence upon Jesus.
In addition to the inward evidences of faith in Christ, we must also maintain an outward display of Christianity. Some people would think that Jesus’ priority list would include all the things you can mark on a traditional Sunday School offering envelope. Compare that to Jesus’ list: mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking and persecution. By capping the list with persecution Jesus made it quite clear that He was speaking of the God-honoring characteristics produced in Christ’s Kingdom, not the hippy-dippy alternatives. Jesus brought together both the inward and outward characteristics of the Christian life by calling us to be salt and light. Like the average kitchen, we have no shortage of salt or light.
In North Carolina alone we have tens of thousands of Christians who can show their neighbors a display of new life in Christ, but what difference will we make if we don’t get the salt out of the shaker and flip on the light? He’s looking for a demonstration, not just a recitation, of the power of the gospel.