When I was a teenager and younger man, I had a prodigious appetite. I could eat ungodly amounts of food, one sitting after another. I would fill Tupperware bowls with cereal, sometimes half a box if I thought my parents might not notice and eat it for breakfast. I would get a pack of hot dogs, a pack of buns, and a can of chili and call that lunch. I have eaten two pounds of pork barbeque with all the side dishes and once ate fifteen plates of seafood and four dessert plates at an all you can eat seafood place on the Georgia coast (they lost a little on that meal). And I ate like that, disgusting as it was, well into my thirties maybe even early forties.
But a few years ago, something happened. Heather and I were celebrating our anniversary with a few days away on the coast. We were eating a somewhat noisy, overcrowded restaurant, and I had ordered something of the usual fare—big, greasy, and with lots of things I didn’t need. I was already feeling a bit off, but I thought I was just coming down with something. My throat was kind of scratchy but again, I thought I was coming down with something.
Not long after we got back, I went into my doctor’s office and found the problem: acid reflux. After years of eating large quantities of garbage my digestive system was having to deal with the damage. And the type of reflux I had was not only giving me a scratchy throat, but it was also damaging my vocal cords to the point I had days where I couldn’t talk. So, having my own personal in-house dietitian, I was given a diet. All the fatty, greasy burgery foods became off-limits. Sugar wasn’t a complete no-no, but it also wasn’t anything I could eat a lot of.
Even now, several years later, I still have to be careful what I eat. Over the past month or so I’ve found out I can’t eat beef without it upsetting my stomach and sometimes coffee causes my reflux to act up. The changes have been big but one thing I notice, even the smallest amount of problem foods won’t go unnoticed. When they’re in my food, I know it. My system will let me know and usually in a not so pleasant way.
In our passage this week, Jesus talks about two things with big impacts even when they’re used in small quantities. Continuing with the Beatitudes and the idea of the value the poor and outcast have in the Kin-dom, Jesus offers salt and light. As one commentator writes, “He addresses his audience directly, using the second person: “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-14). God has made you, and blessed you, for a particular role in creation’s redemption.” What is the particular role?
Seasoning and sight.
Both salt and light can be used in small quantities to affect change.
We are being called in this passage to be the change agents of salt and light.
When Jesus begins this Sermon on the Mount, he does so with the Beatitudes we talked about last week. After these saying of salt and light, Jesus will go on to offer a way of living and being while giving a new, fuller interpretation of the Mosaic Law. If we experience this sermon fully in our lives, we have the possibility of flavoring the world around us with the teachings and ways Jesus lived and taught. We will be continuing in the ministries he started.
In seasoning the world with Jesus Salt, we illuminate everything around us. We allow others to see life from the Jesus perspective and see the benefit to living into the way of life Jesus offers. Even the tiniest ray of light can dispel a room filled with darkness. In the same way, a single disciple of Jesus, through the work of the Spirit, can bring illumination to the souls of many around them.
Where does that leave us?
It leaves us making a choice and the choice is simple: being change agents of salt and light, of seasoning and sight, in our community or not. As part of their Think Different campaign in 1997, Apple came up with this poem,
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Being salt and light is being different.
Are we willing to be different enough,
Jesus enough, even among our own congregation and communities,
to be agents of change for the world around us,
to be seasoning and sight in a tasteless and dark place?
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