Matthew 5:13, 14
You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his flavor, with which shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing…
Christ regards his people as the salt of the earth and as the light of the world. In both characters they have a mission to others. The Church exists for the sake of the world. She has a large vocation; the whole earth is the field of her work, and there she is to labour not for her own ends, but to benefit mankind. How grievous is the perversion of those who exactly reverse the position of Christ, and behave as though the world only existed for the benefit of the Church!
I. THE SALT.
1. Its function. The salt is to preserve that on which it is sprinkled from corrupting.
(1) The world is in danger of sinking into corruption. Society is threatened with disintegration by the mutual opposition of conflicting classes. Domestic life is corroded by immorality and intemperance. "Naturalism" defiles art. Frivolous amusements tend to become unwholesome. Therefore a preserving and purifying agent is needed.
(2) The world is worth preserving. Otherwise why salt it? Christ does not desire the destruction of civilization, but its preservation. Christianity is not nihilism. Politics, commerce, art, literature, are all worth keeping from corruption.
2. Its action. Salt is antiseptic. The Church is expected to be of the same character; not merely to be pure, but to purify. This is not confined to definite crusades against evil. The mere presence of good men and women in the world tends to keep it sound and healthy, by the silent influence of example. The old heathen world was rotting in vice when the Christians appeared and infused a new life of purity into society. We cannot calculate the advantage to the whole world of the presence in it to-day of pure-minded, earnest, unselfish, good men and women. A few such, like a little salt, have an immense influence in preserving a great mass of society.
3. Its failure. The salt may lose its savour. It may not have become corrupt. Yet as a negative thing it is then useless, and only fit to be cast away as so much dust. If the grace of God, if the spirit of' Christ, if the Divine life, vanish from the Church, the corporation may still exist, but its mission will have ceased. For the sake of the world the spiritual vigour of the Church must be preserved. It will not do to be too conciliatory to society. The Church is salt, not sugar.
1. Its nature. Light banishes night. It reveals our danger, shows our path, cheers our hearts, and refreshes our health. All these things are expected of Christian influence on the world.
2. Its position. A city on a hill; a lamp on its stand. Christians are not to be ashamed of their confession. It is the duty of the Church to be prominent, not for her own sake - for her own prestige - but to spread light on others.
3. Its radiance. The light streams out by means of good works. The world cares little for our words, but it has a sharp eye for our works. We want a new gospel for the present age, one written on the lives of Christians, that the world may see the reality of what we preach.
4. Its object, The glory of God. If this last point had not been added, it might have seemed as though the self-glorification were allowable. But our works are not to our own credit, because, if they are good, all the goodness in them comes from the grace of God. Therefore we glorify God in bearing fruit, by so living that his life shines out through our conduct. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.