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 (the Message paraphrase from the Sermon on the Mount)

Jesus asks us to be to the world what salt is to food and light is to darkness – elements both very much needed and distinctly different. His followers act as a preservative in a morally decaying world with light to show the way. Why should we be salt and light? Because he wants all people to know him and because he is the example for us to follow. What we do and how we do it is associated with being like him and sharing his love.

When a religious scholar asked Jesus which is the most important of all the commandments, he answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 ESV) The religious scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!” When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.” (Mark 12: 32-34 The Message paraphrase)

The rest of the Sermon on the Mount explains how to love your neighbor and your enemy. Following Jesus means loving what God loves, like God loves, and hating what God hates. The gospel message, we have to realize, means we are all destined to an eternity without God apart from the powerful work of Christ’s love on the cross to forgive our sins. Jesus loved us by giving his life for us. We love our neighbors by sacrificing to reach out to them. This week memorize/meditate on the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:28-31), Write them out and keep them in places you’ll see often. Ask God to give you ways you can love him and love your neighbor as yourself.

By Donna Burns