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Christians Are Crucial

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Christians Are Crucial

Matthew 5:13-16

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 13, 2013

*An old Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. Patty said, "Guess what, Chuck? The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck."

*Poor, confused Charlie Brown asked, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" Patty replied, "You're my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me." (1)

*Christians: What kind of influence are we? As we look into the Word of God tonight, we can see the kind of influence Jesus wants us to be. And you may not feel like it, but Christian, you are crucial in God's plan for His world!

1. So first of all, learn the value of your life.

*In vs. 13, the Lord taught His followers about the value of our lives in this world. There Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth. . ." This symbolism doesn't make nearly as much sense to us as it did to the Lord's followers 2,000 years ago. "You are the salt of the earth." That sounds kind of ho-hum to us, because salt is cheap and plentiful today.

*You'll never hear about people sticking-up Sonic for a few packets of salt. But in the ancient world salt was a tremendously valuable commodity. Workers in some cultures were paid with salt. That's why our word "salary" comes from the word, "salt."

*People wanting to buy something would pay for it with salt the same way we use money today. And people treasured salt as we might value gold or silver. Scott Hoezee tells us that the earliest roads were built to transport salt, the earliest taxes were charged on salt, and whole military campaigns were launched to obtain it. (2)

*We take salt for granted, but Billy Strayhorn reminds us how much it can do.

[1] First, of course, salt makes things taste better. That's why we put it on everything from eggs to grits to popcorn. Some of us even put it on watermelon.

[2] Salt enhances the flavor of food. But on top of that, it's a preservative. Before refrigeration or canning, much meat was preserved by packing it in salt. That salt-cured meat would last for years.

[3] Salt was used as a preservative, and as a curative. Before the time of modern medicine, salt was used as an antiseptic. It burned like crazy, but salt was often poured into an open wound to clean it of any impurities. Today we still gargle salt water sometimes to kill germs. (3&4)

*Salt was and is extremely useful. And Christians, we are the salt of the earth. So just like physical salt, we are intended by God to be a positive influence on our society, both by our words and the way we act.

*By the grace of God and His power at work in our lives, we have the power to help preserve and purify our world. Right now, the Holy Spirit is at work in the world, and part of His work comes through Christians committed to the cause of Christ. Can you imagine what the world would be like without this godly influence? -- It would be evil completely unrestrained.

*That's how it will be here after the rapture, and I dread that for those who are left behind. But while we are here, we can be a positive influence in our family, at work, at school, and all over our community. And just like salt, we can add great flavor to life. We can show people that the Christian life is not boring or bland. It's abundant! It's the best life of all. It's the only real life.

*There is one other powerful impact of salt. Melvin Shelton pointed it out in the story of a youth meeting. That night, the youth were talking about the meaning of the Lord's words in Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth."

*The students discussed the meaning of the verse, and the leader asked them to talk about different uses of salt. There were several good answers: Salt gives flavor to food. It preserves food to keep it from spoiling. Then one girl said, "Salt makes you thirsty." And everybody got quiet as they began to ask themselves: "Have I ever made anyone thirsty for Jesus?" (5)

*This is what God wants us to do: Make people thirsty to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And this is the most important influence we can have in the world!

*Jesus wants us to learn the value of our lives. So learn the value of your life.

2. And listen to Christ's warning about a diluted life.

*Jesus gave us a serious warning here in vs. 13: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."

*The salt we use today is pure and cannot lose it saltiness. But in Jesus' day they got their salt from the Dead Sea. It was mixed with other minerals so part of a bag might lose its saltiness. When this happened it was a good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled on. (4)

*Christians can get so full of the things of this world that the flavor of Christ in our lives gets diluted. We don't want to be like that! Christians: We are the salt of the world. Don't let your life get diluted and polluted with the things of this world.

*Be the salt! Make people thirsty to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Nothing matters more. We all are crucial in God's plan for His world! So listen to Christ's warning about a diluted life.

3. And let the Savior shine through you.

*Jesus teaches us to shine His light in vs. 14-16. There the Lord said:

14. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

*Now of course the only reason we can be the light of the world is because Jesus is the Light (capital "L" Light) of the world! In John 8:12, Jesus said: "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

*The only way we can shine is to allow Jesus to shine through us. And what an honor that He is willing to shine through us!

*As King Duncan explained: "Can you imagine that? Here was a motley crew of farmers and fishermen and tax collectors and housewives in a tiny and remote village in an obscure part of the world and Jesus was saying to them, 'You are the light of the world.' Talk about a crazy idea! Light of the world? That bunch? It must have sounded absurd at the time even to them.

*Only Jesus could have seen that through this motley crew God would indeed change the world forever. 'You are the light of the world,' He said and so they were. And so are we. Christians: You and I are the light of the world." (6)

*But what does that mean? -- Rodney Fry gave us some possibilities:

[1] First, light is to be seen. In vs. 15, Jesus said you don't light a lamp and then put it under a basket. You put it up on a stand to give light to everyone in the house. Our faith ought to be visible to everyone who knows us. They ought to be able to see Jesus Christ living in us.

[2] Light is to be seen. But it is also to help guide. When an airplane approaches a landing strip at night, the pilot sees a line of lights that marks the right way. Our lives should help other people see that Jesus Christ is the right way in life.

[3] Light is to guide. But it is also to warn. The light from lighthouses kept many ships from crashing into dangerous rocks. And it can be hard for us to warn someone that they are heading the wrong way. But we must be the warning light to help save them from danger. (4)

*Christians: We are the light of the world. So how should we shine?

[1] Rodney Fry said that we should shine naturally. Just a bird sings naturally we Christians should shine before others.

[2] We should shine naturally and sacrificially. Except for sun and the moon, light in this world usually costs something. Candles grow shorter as they burn. Wicks and oil are being used up when an oil-lamp burns. And we must be willing to sacrifice a bit of ourselves each day we live.

[3] We should shine sacrificially and boldly. We must never be ashamed of our relationship with Jesus Christ!

[4] And we must shine consistently. What will everyone remember about the Super Bowl this year down in New Orleans? -- The lights went out. It's annoying and often dangerous when the lights go out. God wants us to brightly shine wherever we are: At home, at work, in the grocery store, at the game, wherever we are. (4)

*Johann Neethling once said: "In a dark and scary world, anxious people eagerly look for a light that is able to give them hope, comfort and a sense of security. For people who have lost loved ones, for people who are struggling to make ends meet, for people who feel they are at the end of their rope, for people who question their worth and value, you and I are mini-versions of Jesus, the Light of the world." (7)

*We are the light of the world! And what a difference it makes when we shine for the Lord! In World War II, Admiral Marc Mitscher made a life-saving decision during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

*Late in the afternoon of June 20, 1944, Mitscher had dispatched a bombing mission against the retreating Japanese fleet. It was pitch-dark when the first of the flyers began returning to their carriers, but the fleet was under strict blackout regulations. The pilots' fuel supplies were running dangerously low. And many would never be able to find their way back to their carriers.

*Admiral Mitscher took a calculated risk. He turned on the lights. One returning pilot described the scene as a "Hollywood premier, Chinese New Year and Fourth of July all rolled into one." The planes landed for two hours. Eighty more pilots out of gas had to ditch in the sea, but they were close enough to the carriers that few were lost.

*All of those lives were saved because someone was bold enough to turn on the lights. But greater salvation, eternal salvation takes place when we let our light shine for Jesus Christ. (8)

*Christians: We are crucial in God's plan for His world! So let the Savior shine through you.

4. And live to give glory to God.

*In vs. 16, Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

*How can we live to give glory to God? Well there are some things we have to do. Jesus said we have to let men see our good works, and then they will give glory to God.

*Stephen Chapman explained: "Most people won't come right out and say it, but you'd better believe they're thinking it. They're not interested in committing their lives to Christ unless they observe attractive and consistent patterns of living in the Christians they know." Joe Aldrich put it something like this: "Christians have to BE the good news as well as share the good news." (9)

*That doesn't mean we have to be perfect, and that's good, because we're not perfect. But Jesus Christ does make a difference in our lives, and it ought to show.

*Chapman says: "One of the primary reasons God calls His followers to be extraordinarily caring people is because acts of kindness open up people's hearts like nothing else can." (9)

*And as we do good works in the name of Jesus Christ, the glory goes to God. That may mean giving toys and food to needy families at Christmas Toy Store, or giving personal hygiene items to the House of Hope. It may mean fixing a meal for someone who has had a death in their family. It may mean helping with Sunday School, Missions, Children's Church, the Nursery, or Upward Football. It may mean singing in the Choir, serving on a committee, or serving in many other ways.

*Another great thing to do is invite people to church. Right now, we are focusing in on Easter. Last Sunday, we gave out about 90 invitations for our Palm Sunday and Easter Worship Services. And I'll have some more invitations for you as we go out the door tonight. When you invite them, some of them will come. God will be glorified.

*And the glory goes to God, because Jesus is the One who died on the cross! Jesus is the one who paid for our sins. He is the One who rose from the dead! He is the only one who can give eternal life. And the glory will go to Him forever!

*But all of us can live to give glory to God! We can let people see our good works and give the glory to God. And every day we should live more for the glory of God.

*Stanley Jones was a great Methodist missionary to India. He wrote his autobiography when he was 83. And in the introduction the old missionary said this: "The best that I can say about myself is that I'm a Christian in the making. Not yet 'made,' but in the making at age 83. . . So I face the future with confidence and even with joy. . . I am persuaded that the so-called end is really just the beginning in Jesus Christ. He is Lord of the past, the Lord of the present, and the Lord of the future. . ." (10)

*Stanley Jones lived to give glory to God. So should we!

*Then there's Richard Foster. When Richard was only a teenager, he spent a summer among the Eskimos of Kotzebue, Alaska. Richard went up there on a mission to help build the first high school above the Arctic Circle.

*It was hard, backbreaking work. One day Richard was trying to dig a trench for a sewer line, -- not an easy task in the frozen tundra. An Eskimo man watched for a while and then simply said: "You are digging a ditch for the glory of God!"

*Those words totally transformed the moment. That Eskimo saw Richard's good work, and gave the glory to God. Maybe no one else would ever know or care about how Richard dug that ditch. But the Eskimo knew. Much more important: God knew and He cared. And because of that Eskimo's words, Richard said: "I dug with all my might, for every shovelful of dirt was a prayer to God." (11)

CONCLUSION:

*Whether we're 83 or 18, we can live to give glory of God. And we should! Christians: We are crucial in God's plan for His world.

-So learn the value of your life.

-Listen to Christ's warning about a diluted life.

-Let the Savior's light shine through you.

-And live to give glory to God.

(1) Sermon "Salt and Light" by J. David Hoke - Matthew 5:13-16 - April 9, 1995

(2) Online sermon "Mixing It Up" by Scott Hoezee - Matthew 5:13-16 - Calvin Christian Reformed Church

(3) Adapted from: "The Salt and Light Brigade" - Matthew 5:13-20 - online sermon by Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

(4) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Pass the Salt and Turn on the Light" by Rodney Fry - Matthew 5:13-16

(5) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Melvin Shelton

(6) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "Let My Little Light Shine" by King Duncan - Matthew 5:13-16

(7) SermonCentral sermon "Be Careful Where and How You Shine Your Light" by Johann Neethling - Matthew 5:13-16

(8) Sermons.com sermon "Turn on the Lights" by Bill Bouknight - Matthew 5:14-16

(9) SermonCentral sermon "Contagious Christian Character" by Steven Chapman - Matthew 5:13-16

(10) "A Song of Ascents" by E. Stanley Jones - pp. 366-367, 372 - Source: Peachtree Presbyterian Pulpit - Series: "The Challenges of Being Married" - #3 - "Marriage is a Marathon, Not a Sprint!" - Sermon by W. Frank Harrington - Proverbs 31:10-21 - May 18, 1997

(11) Richard J. Foster, "PRAYER" - (San Francisco: Harper, 1992) - p. 172 - My Source: David Holwick illustration #2648 - TOPICS: Work; Labor; Glory of God; Servanthood; Motivation; Purpose - His Source: "Dynamic Preaching Disk, Summer 1993 - 'A'" - TITLE: "You Can Dress Them Up..." - AUTHOR: (Richard Foster) - 8193 - TYPIST: David Holwick

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