“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 MSG
Uniqueness is both celebrated and decried today. On one hand we are told to seek our own truth and be uniquely who we want to be. Then again, we are asked to pitch in, be a collective of one, the village that pulls together to help each other. For us who follow Christ, being unique or distinctive is about who God has created us to be for Him in this world.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew chapter 5 to be distinctive or different. Jesus wants his followers to stand out, like the city on a hill, so that everyone is pointed to Him. Words without deeds fall flat and uniqueness without purpose is frivolous. Jesus gives us purpose and vocation to make us His distinctive disciples. We are salt that show people God’s love, grace, and peace. We are light that witnesses His mercy and salvation to our neighbors. Just as food needs salt, and darkness needs light, Jesus needs us in the world to show the world how distinctively different life in Christ is.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s. One of the first praise songs I remember is Shine Jesus Shine, by Graham Kendrick. The song starts like this:
Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me
(Now you have the song stuck in your head. You’re welcome!)
We shine His light because we reflect His perfect radiance! How blessed we are to be set free by the truth of His Holy word and point others toward it.
As we prepare to gather at the Lutheran Educators Conference in San Diego and then gather with family for Thanksgiving, we look to Jesus for our hope and strength and salvation. If you will be at LEC, renew your saltiness with training and study. Recharge your light with worship and Bible study. As staff called to our churches and schools, we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Be distinctively different for the sake of Christ!
Dr. Jake Hollatz, St. John's Lutheran School, Orange, CA