I Am A Moon, Not A Sun
In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, Jesus teaches us a way of life that is so radically different from normal human activity that living it out is like trying to write with your weak hand. When I was in the 3rd grade, I had a nasty fall playing in my grandparents’ front yard. I immediately knew something was badly wrong, but only when I stood up did I fully realize that my arm was broken…..specifically, my elbow was crushed into several pieces. It was my right arm, and I had to spend several miserable months with my arm in a cast. This forced me to do all of my school work with my weak hand….my left one. It was so frustratingly hard to do! My work looked horrible and my handwriting was unreadable. Simply put, it was completely unnatural.
This is exactly what we feel when we first get a look at the life Jesus is calling us to live in His famous speech. Matthew 5:13-16 shows us that through faith in Jesus His followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Notice, Jesus is not saying we will someday become salt and light, but rather He is proclaiming that because of our faith in Him we ARE salt and light. This is a defining attribute of the Gospel (the message of Jesus). Identity comes BEFORE behavior. Jesus gives us our salt and light identity and then He calls us to live that out all the while empowering us to do so through the work of the Holy Spirit.
What does He mean by salt and light? First, it helps to understand what salt meant to the culture in which Jesus was speaking. Salt did three things in Jesus day. First, salt preserved. Today, because of the technology of refrigeration, we don’t see salt in this way. In Biblical times, salt was the way in which people kept meat from going bad before they could use it. Salt both SLOWED decay and SHOWED decay. Salt would begin to change colors before the meat would, indicating the presence of decay. Salt also enhanced flavor, which we still know to be true today. Nothing brings a serving of bland green beans alive like salt!!
Finally, salt in Jesus day created thirst, as it does in our culture. Nothing will make you thirstier than a salty meal! Salt had distinct purposes in Jesus’ day, and He has distinct purposes for us. We are to live in a way that both slows the decay around us while simultaneously revealing the decay. Our lives should be so radically unique that they actually contrast with the world in which we live. Our lives also should enhance the life around us. Any environment that a Christ follower is in should be positively impacted by their very presence. We bring the Kingdom of Heaven with us! And finally, our lives should create a thirst in others to want the living water of Jesus that has forever quenched our own thirst.
Lastly, Jesus said that we are light. Interestingly, no matter how dark a room may be, one lit match can overcome that darkness. Light is powerful. We are called to be light, but our light has a source. We are not self-sufficient lamps, but rather, we are like an electric lamp that demands a source of power to illuminate. The source of our light is Jesus. In fact, we have no light on our own. We don’t manufacture the light, but instead we simply reflect it. We are lit up by the King of the King’s Speech. In fact, we are like the moon. Our moon is only beautiful and illuminated when it is reflecting the light and beauty of the sun. The sun produces it’s own energy and light, but the moon does not. You and I are only light because Jesus gives us the light. The only good thing about me is Jesus. I’m a moon, not a sun. If you are a disciple of Christ, you are a moon, but not a sun. So go, be salt, and be light. It will not be natural, but you will not act alone. It is the work of God in the life of His followers.