- Religion and Philosophy
Salt and Light of the World
Metaphors of Matthew
Recently, in Bible study at my church, we have been studying the book of Matthew. In Matthew Chapter Five, Jesus is on Mount Zion teaching his disciples. His teachings from the "Sermon on the Mount" have become beloved cornerstones of our Christian faith. The beginning of this sermon was the "Beatitudes". A few very familiar phrases from the Beatitudes are "Blessed are the meek, blessed are the mercyful, blessed are the peacemakers."
In this sermon, Jesus also reviews the importance of the ten commandments, and in Matthew 5:13, he tells his disciples that "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt lost its savor wherewith shall it be salted?" In Matthew 5:14 he says "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."
For myself, this metaphor of salt and light is very intriguing. There is so much meaning both in Biblical times, and today in those words.
What is meant by "Salt and Light?"
In our Bible study, we had much discussion on this subject. "Salt" as stated in the text can have many meanings. The word "salt" can be taken literally as a preservative. It is also thought of as "pure", and sometimes as a metaphor for wisdom. When Jesus was speaking though, he was speaking to the disciples, so it is common to think that the disciples, and now us as Christians, are the "Salt of the Earth." If we remain humble and good, we will not lose our "saltiness."
"Light of the World" is actually easier to visualize. We agreed in our study that Jesus is the light of the world. As Christians, we also shine with his light. We have to let our light shine in our everyday life, and our everyday walk with Jesus. Our lamp should be always on, and shining to welcome new Christians to join us within the light.
City of Light
"City on a Hill" - The phrase for me conjures up visions of a beautiful hillside city like San Francisco, with houses and shops lining hilly streets. Matthew 5:14, after telling us that as Christians, we are the "light of the world," continues on to say that "a city on a hill cannot be hid."
As Christians, we are watched by the world. Our own actions can reflect good or bad on our entire faith. One of our group members brought up the fact that if you put a "fish symbol" on the back of your car, you had better be prepared to be a skillful, and patient driver.
Throughout the years, the phrase "City on a Hill" has been used in speeches by our most important leaders. In 1961, John F. Kennedy gave a powerful speech to America where he said that "we shall be as a city on a hill." "The eyes of all people are upon us."
There have also been multiple Christian worship albums composed of various artists with the album titles of "City on a Hill."
On our Knees
The contempory Christian artist, TobyMac, has a song called "City on our Knees," that is presently being played on Christian Radio. This is a really beautiful song with a great message.
The song begins with the lyrics - "If you gotta start somewhere why not here" "If you gotta start sometime why not now" "If you gotta start somewhere I say here" "If we gotta start sometime I say now" "Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions, Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave."
For me those lyrics sort of sum up the true meaning of "salt and light." With the light of GOD there is hope for the world.