Monday, April 8, 2013


You’re the salt of the earth  
But if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under-foot by men. 
You’re the light of the world
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

When Jesus called them “salt” and “light,” he was calling them weird, strange, different, peculiar, holy and outstanding.  That wouldn't have surprised them, because Jews had always known they were different from the rest of the world.  They call us “Gentiles,” but in Hebrew the word is “nations” or “peoples.”  From the point of view of God’s people, there are “we” who belong to God, and then there’s everyone else:  
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1 Peter 2:9-12)
In Peter’s letter, he repeats this theme quoting lines from God through Moses – God’s people have always been “peculiar.” 

The question is: what kind of outstanding are we supposed to be? 

At church yesterday the musical leader was very animated and very talented.  People praised him.  You've probably seen the same thing in church – those preachers or musicians who are very “gifted,” and so receive praise and attention.  Is this the kind of “different” we’re called to be?  Absolutely not! 
Later in the SOM, Jesus will say this:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

 So when you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

 When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Whenever you fast, don’t put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they’ll be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting won’t be noticed by men

Does this sound like a contradiction?  At first Jesus says we are light, a city on a hill; and later he seems to say we’re supposed to do everything in secret.  What’s up with Jesus?  Are we supposed to be the hot, enthusiastic  “praise” leader at a big assembly, or are we supposed to be the humble and quiet person that worships unnoticed? 

Pay attention to the end of Peter’s statement and the last part of our Lord’s command for the full answer:
People will see your work, and give God the credit
They see the good that you do … and then glorify God.  

If people see your work and glorify you, that’s all the reward you’ll receive.  If people see what you do and then come to fear, love and worship God, then you’re doing what Jesus said. 

Churches love to get glory for themselves.  They advertise their name, the name of their pastor, or they put on such a good show on stage that people will come and see their show.  This is NOT the kind of different Jesus calls us to be!  The praise these people get from others is all for their own glory, to feed their own egos.  They are (by Jesus’ definition) hypocrites and false prophets. 

The challenge Jesus gave his disciples here is simply this: Do your good works in such a way that others will thank God – not you.  So that people will praise God – not you.  So that people will “idolize” God – and not you.  So that people want to join you … in becoming like Jesus - not join your group, church or club so they can be one of the “cool kids.” 

No one knows your heart but you and God, even great performers may have good hearts.  But we can all see your fruit.  Bring glory to God, not yourself. 

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