I grew up in church, and as such, I feel like I grew up on Jesus. However, I have spent the last 6+ years learning about everything biblical except Jesus, I think. I have been studying the Bible as a scholar, learning how it all fits together into one beautiful, incredible plan of God. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with the Old Testament, and the God who rose up a treasured nation out of one pagan man. But the last couple of months, I have truly felt disconnected with the Jesus who started it all. I have been in the New Testament doing studies of Paul’s works, but though I am learning theology and Paul’s Christology, I am missing the central character: Jesus himself.
This past weekend, I went to a Beth Moore conference- Living Proof Live- where she spoke with the theme of “Recalibrate.” And to my (not the least) surprise, it was completely centered on Jesus and recalibrating our spirituality to refocus on the one who started it all – Jesus. She described exactly what I had been feeling the last couple of months – being in the Word, serving, and living as righteously as a sinner like me can, yet feeling restless and desiring more. That more is Jesus. Through her, God finally forced my focus back onto Jesus and used her to show me exactly why I was feeling so restless – it had simply been too long since I truly studied the gospels and reveled in the words of my Savior. So, the day I returned from the conference, I cracked open my Bible to Matthew and started reading- really I started devouring Christ’s journey from his humble beginnings. And can I say, I truly don’t know how I’ve gone so long without him in my study time.
Tonight I am reading in Matthew 5, as Jesus climbed upon the mountain and preached the famous Sermon on the Mount, and how these words grabbed me in v13:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.“
I know this is a pretty well-known passage of Scripture, and certainly one I’ve heard often. However, I think I always believed it was simply about being called to disciple. Tonight, these words simply resounded until I just had to dig into them. What I found is this: salt is a purifier. In the Old Testament (Ex 30:35; Lev 2:13), salt was used to purify offerings that the Israelites made to the LORD; it was also used by Elisha in 2 Kings 2:21 to heal (purify) the spring of Jericho. Therefore, Jesus was telling his disciples that they were to purify and heal the land through the example of righteous living. Did you know that living righteously can purify and heal those around us, through the power of God? Isn’t that amazing?! Jesus did not just tell us to live righteously because God told us to, but because through righteous living, we might purify the world around us. What an incredible God we serve! Hallelujah, praise His Holy Name!
However, Jesus’ words do not stop there. He tells that salt, once lost its flavor, is no longer good and must be thrown out. In the metaphorical sense, our righteous living is the salt, and our sinful living is salt without its flavor. If we, as professed disciples, lose our saltiness, we “promote destruction rather than purification. Such salt is only good for spreading over ground where you want to kill vegetation. Such is the fatal effect of an unrighteous disciple’s lifestyle (Charles L. Quarles, “Matthew,” in HCSB, 1619).” In living righteously, God’s Spirit salts, purifies and heals, all those around us. In the life of a disciple living sinfully, death and destruction are left in his or her wake. When our words do not match our actions, we poison all those who witness towards God and His people and lead them into destruction.
Jesus then goes to describe his disciples as the light of the world. When we claim to live for Christ, when we publicly label ourselves “Christian,” we become lights in this world leading others down the path we profess. When we live righteously, we lead others straight to God as they “see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).” When we live sinfully, our light brightly shines as we traverse a path leading people straight to death and destruction. So… What path are you taking?
God, thank you so much for reminding us that though we need to know the whole Bible, we need JESUS. How I pray you convict us all when we began to live outside of your will. How I pray that we who call ourselves “Christians” would truly live as the salt of the world, and through us you may purify and heal those whom we encounter daily. You are so good and you are so faithful. I pray that we would live in a manner worthy of Your Holy Name. We bless your name, we love you Father. Amen.