“Salt and light” is one of the most catalytic metaphors taught by Jesus about who we are as the body of Christ.
To be salt and light to the world is one of the greatest responsibilities of the Church today, the question is how do we do that consistently in a practical way? Can church programs unintentionally get in the way?
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 underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Matt 5:13-16
To be salt and light to the world is a simple concept, yet it can’t happen on Sunday mornings alone. The embodiment of salt and light must be carried into the community that our churches serve.
Being salt and light as the body of Christ is difficult to program because it’s personal. Essentially, it’s demonstrated by:
- The principles we live by
- The words we speak
- The actions we take
We forfeit our opportunity to be salt and light by things like:
- Division within the church
- Making the gospel complicated
- Failure to see and accept others who are different
- Lacking passion for the purposes of God
- Elevating personal agendas above God’s
6 Avenues for the Church to be Salt and Light
1) Consistently demonstrate unconditional love and grace
Current culture lives in an environment of division, cancellation, and tension. Yet, we have the greatest opportunity imaginable to reach people with the unconditional love and grace made possible by Jesus.
When we lead with love and grace we open the door for truth.
Unconditional love and grace does not suggest mushy or lukewarm Christianity, instead, it recognizes the condition of human nature and our desperate need to be accepted and included.
When we consider the issue of consistency in our demonstration of love and grace, even amongst family and friends, it is challenging. Flawless love and grace isn’t the goal, it’s consistency to do our best from a heart level. When we are consistent with those closest to us, it is more natural to live that out with those we don’t know.
Does your church consistently demonstrate unconditional love and grace?
2) Boldy communicate the truth about Jesus
If we lead with love and grace we can be bold in our communication of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to make excuses or water down the truth about redemption – eternal life through the forgiveness of sin. People know (or at least sense) that life without purpose leaves a void, and the human soul longs for meaning and community.
People can handle the truth. They may not fully understand it and therefore not accept it right away, but they can handle it. They may not be ready right now, but they deserve to hear the un-watered down version.
When communicated with love and genuine faith, boldness brings confidence and strength, not condemnation and judgement.
Do you boldly and clearly communicate the gospel?
3) Faithfully help make the unseen seen and lead with hope
It has always been the responsibility of a leader to give hope, hope of a better future. It’s the ability to see what others do not see and help them get there.
This process begins with hearing from God. What is the vision? How do you describe that hope? It’s two-fold. Here on earth and for eternity, because eternity begins in the present.
Communicating hope involves clarity from God, casting vision, inspiring and showing the way. For some, we must help them believe it’s actually possible. They are stuck where they are in life, and God wants to set them free from whatever holds them captive.
For us as leaders, we too must believe, even when we doubt. Hope comes from trusting God even in the tough times.
Do you faithfully make the unseen seen and lead with hope?
4) Generously make a tangible difference in the community
We love the church inside the walls, but we live for church outside the walls.
What we experience in the body of Christ in worship is powerful, encouraging and transformational. But that’s only the beginning, the ultimate and intended purpose is to carry that into the community.
It would be selfish for us as Christians to keep that blessing for ourselves. A spirit of generosity requires us to share that blessing with others.
- How do you do that?
- How does your church do that?
- How do you serve others, including others that may never likely attend your church?
Every community surrounding a local church presents incredible opportunities to meet needs.
The primary goal of the local church is not to get people to come sit with us for an hour on Sunday, but to take that hour as fuel to serve others in the communities where we live and work. It’s about changing lives.
5) Diligently invest in the maturity and growth of the body of believers
Jesus developed His disciples, and we must follow His example. Maturity doesn’t happen on its own. It’s not automatic.
We know this to be true because of those we’re acquainted with who are mature in years but not in faith, decision-making or behavior.
The interesting question is who is responsible?
Certainly, every adult is responsible for him or herself, but as Scripture is clear about discipleship and developing leaders, we therefore carry a part of that responsibility as well.
Diligence is an important word because helping people grow is not a fast process. And sometimes we can grow and then unravel a bit, that’s not uncommon. Therefore, patience is also key, and I’m so grateful God is patient with us. Another incredible example.
How’s your church doing in the process of helping people grow? What is your part?
6) Authentically enhance the joy and beauty of daily life
Hospitality is a word that carries an uplifting tone, and has a positive feel to it. But that’s only because of all the unseen and heavy lifting that comes with actually making it happen.
Genuine hospitality is a gift to anyone who encounters it. It causes us to feel welcomed, accepted, and valued. It sometimes even makes us feel special. This is a spiritual gift all churches can offer.
We’ve all been in a restaurant where there was hospitality, but it wasn’t authentic. Those who offered it were merely going through the motions, and certainly not from the heart.
While it’s nice to have someone bring you a cup of coffee, a cup of coffee with a smile and a kind word can change someone’s day.
The church has the opportunity to add joy and beauty to the lives of so many people in profoundly ways, but they are not easy ways, certainly not easy to practice consistently.
How’s the hospitality in your church?
Salt and light… an easy concept, not such an easy process, but oh so rewarding.