Making a difference: Being Salt and Light in today's world

Before the M25 motorway was built around London, we would often have to drive from Essex, through east, central and west London to visit my parents in Wiltshire. This became a regular event and the vast city became simply an obstacle that needed to be surmounted in order for life to be enjoyed. In doing so, we would leave the green fields of home and soon enter the joined-up suburbs that are home to so many nationalities, and social groups. Soon the buildings get more crowded and taller. City-life has its own aura, where pedestrians stride out with purpose, intent on completing the tasks that the day has forced upon them. Soon, the banks and offices give way to the grand, historic buildings, admired by sight-seers and governmental offices where armies of civil servants try to ensure that national life is peaceful and prosperous and take our money in order to spend it on doing just that.  As the journey continues through the ‘consumer heaven’ of the West End, designer-label shopping bags jostle their way through the crowds as their handlers desperately hope that they will bring happiness and contentment to an otherwise chaotic life. Then, on cue, road signs appear saying ‘The West’ and we begin to think of family, relaxation and fun.

Yet what was imagined as an arduous experience happily left behind, was a journey through the lives of several million people who try to make life meaningful, productive and as enjoyable as possible. Many will have found that money is powerful and can buy you lots of friends. Others will content themselves on the myriad of choices and opportunities that a huge metropolis affords. Some will feel a sense of imprisonment as the roundabout of life forces them to conform or that they are trapped by poverty that sucks them dry of all hope. What for us was a drive to be endured for an hour or two, was for others an existence that they call ‘life’. Scattered throughout this sea of humanity will be Christians, involved in so many areas of city life who are involved in a host of charities, projects, initiatives and churches that are committed to bringing meaning and purpose to so many who work and live there and those who are left behind in the rat-race or those who feel powerless to support themselves. Many will be the residents, the office workers, the civil servants, the business owners and customer service personnel who, in their daily routines, will be demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is real, not only to individuals but also in businesses, organisations, government departments, hospitals and social groups and families.  Each in their own way is able to show the reality of the presence of the risen Lord Jesus in the way they talk, work and socialise. This is something of what Jesus meant when he said “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world” (Matt 5:13-14).
 

 

If the beatitudes describe the essential character of the disciples of Jesus, then salt and light metaphors indicate their influence for good in the world.  Yet the very notion that Christians can exert a healthy influence in the world should bring us up with a start.  What possible influence could the people described in the beatitudes exert in this hard, tough world?   What lasting good can the poor and meek do, the mourners and the merciful and those who try to make peace, not war?  Would they not simply be overwhelmed by the floodtide of evil?  What can they accomplish whose only passion is an appetite for righteousness and whose weapon is purity of heart?  Are not such people too feeble to achieve anything, especially if they are a small minority in the world?  It is evident that Jesus did not share this scepticism.
                      Christian Counter Culture: John Stott




Jesus’ teaching always cut through to the heart of the matter and often evoked a decisive response, sometimes violent disagreement and others welcoming acceptance. They found that Jesus’ challenge was not just a grand philosophical idea but a call to live differently. Those who accepted and followed Jesus as Lord, he commissioned to be salt and light. This wasn’t a task given to a selected few or offered to those who fancied the idea. He explained that, in their following and in their life lived in this way, they were exhibiting saltiness and light. We could imagine that, as individual Christians, our influence would be totally ineffective, being just one lone voice drowned out by a cacophony of strident and attractive ideas. Jesus, however, had other plans. When he called twelve men to be his close companions, he began to show them that living by a distinctly different set of values was not only possible but actually made sense. As these values began to be accepted and demonstrated in the lives of the disciples, so their lives began to be dispensers of salt and shiners of light.
 
The significance was not so much in the container as in the effect of the power that the salt and light brought. Jesus gave them authority to go and speak the message he was speaking and do the things he was doing and through this, they presented a challenge to change accepted thinking and swim against the tide of culture and religious dogmatism. This didn’t come without difficulty, not least because the disciples were a mixed bunch.  Peter was prone to outbursts of anger, James and John, the sons of Zebedee once sought to charm their way into Jesus’ affection, Thomas sought rational proof for life’s big questions, Judas was prone to the lure of money and Simon was a member of an anti-government protest group. Jesus showed that being a disciple was not joining a select group or attaining an advanced qualification of intellectualism but rather, a trust in and an obedience to the Messiah who brought the word of God and the transforming power of God into the lives of ordinary people.

Jesus’ teaching introduces us to a new way of looking at life.  At a first glance we could get the idea that Jesus was telling them that there would be blessing from being miserable, weak and down-trodden but he was clear in showing that this lifestyle that he was introducing actually made sense and came with the blessing of heaven (…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven Matt 5:10). This seriously challenges our modern-day understanding of significance and importance. The media is quick to satisfy our thirst for celebrity gossip and has the notion that those who put themselves in the spotlight are fair game for their whole lives being examined and criticized in the greatest detail. Jesus, however, began to build a distinctly different set of values for those who became his followers.  He planned to take this band of Palestinian peasants and build a kingdom where power, wealth, status, fame and self-sufficiency are superseded and trumped by purity, mercy, meekness, integrity and righteousness. He gave them an extraordinary commission. He called them to exhibit the qualities of salt and light. Both of these pictures are designed to show that, as disciples, he calls us to demonstrate God’s design for God’s world. Just as salt and light are part of his creation, so we are called to show by example how his creation works best.
 
A very significant aspect of being salt and light is that salt is only productive when it comes into contact with the area of influence and light is only effective when it is exposed and allowed to shine.
 

Being Salt

 
Salt has been a vital commodity throughout the world for thousands of years. It has been traded as currency, fought over and been used as payment of wages, from which we get the term ‘salary’. It has been used as payment for slaves, hence the saying “not worth his salt”. Salt is a God-given naturally-occurring chemical, part of God’s creation, in his design for an ordered and balanced world. Jesus uses this normal, natural substance to teach a Spiritual lesson of how God has chosen to affect the world for good through us.

 


Salt and light are not projects we undertake; they descriptions of the character of the people of God living in biblical faithfulness.
                                      Charles Colson: The Body.



Salt by its very nature is inactive until it is placed in the right environment. A pile of salt is only activated when it is dissolved and dispersed into another substance. That was the message that Jesus was giving the disciples; “You are the salt of the earth”. He wanted them to take the truth he was giving them and make effective in the way they worked, in their families, in their attitudes and their involvement in their communities. For us today, there are so many ways in which our faith in Jesus can be demonstrated. We are all members of a family whether close-knit or dispersed, many are employees or employers, some are involved in local community organisations, others are active in charities were the real down to earth day to day needs of many ‘hidden’ people are met. Many at Doddinghurst Road Community Church are busy bringing encouragement, relief, support, guidance, friendship and, not least, a listening ear and a caring heart. Through these they are able, not only to show love but also to bring the transforming power of Jesus, so we can show that he changes lives. Our saltiness will be seen in the way we implement Christ-like principles, argue for Biblical moral attitudes, defend Judeo-Christian values and strive to show a truly Christian conscience in the places we live and work.
 


The affirmation is straightforward ‘You are the salt of the earth’.  This means that when each community is itself and true to itself, it decays like rotten meat while the church can hinder this decay.  Of course, God has set other restraining influences in the community.  He has himself established certain institutions in his common grace which curb man’s selfish tendencies and prevent society from slipping into anarchy.  Chief among these are the state, with its authority to frame and enforce laws and the home, including marriage and family life.  These exert a wholesome influence in the community.  Nevertheless, God intends the most powerful of all these restraints to be his own redeemed, regenerate and righteous people.

                    John Stott:  Message of the Sermon on the Mount


 

Preserving

All of us are children of our generation and of our culture. We are conditioned by the values we observe and our values are honed by the reaction of those around us and how they relate to our lifestyle. When Jesus came preaching, the majority were not prepared to accept him because his teaching didn’t fit in with their lifestyle. What they failed to recognise was that it was actually they who had wandered away from the truth.  Jesus was declaring the truth that had always been but had been discarded in favour of a ‘me’ centred philosophy.

Salt is transformational rather than confrontational. Just as salt is rubbed into the food it is to preserve, being the salt of the earth emphasises that we are called to be in contact with society, to be immersed in it so that our actions have a direct effect in organisations, workplaces, social groups, families and friendships, showing that being salt is not just something we do but rather a characteristic of our lifestyle. In seeking to effect change there may be resistance and rejection. In these situations, we should remember that Jesus warned his disciples that in their witness they would experience opposition. He explained that it would not be them who are being rejected but him because the message was his, not theirs. Jesus (Mark 9:50) also instructed his disciples to ‘have salt in yourselves’. He wanted them to demonstrate that Jesus is Lord and that this would result in a peaceful demeanour.

As Christians, we must be very careful to understand what it is that we are called to preserve. As disciples we are called to live Christ-like lives and this will necessarily make Jesus the centre of our faith and our motivation but this may often bring us into conflict with the popular cultural norms and the philosophy of the day. Rather than being disregarded as Puritanical and Victorian, we bring a message of hope, renewal and transformation that is relevant to any and every generation. Also, simply because something is generally acceptable in our Western democratic society, does not make it automatically right so we must always check that our Christian influence is also Biblical. The WWJD wristbands that were common several years ago asking the question “What would Jesus do?” highlight an important principle. If we are the salt of the earth, we will be acting to promote and demonstrate the presence of Jesus, not just because we think it is a good way to live but because Jesus, by his Spirit, lives in us. 
 

Purifying

We traditionally bathe wounds in a salt solution and rinse our mouths with salt water after tooth extraction. When salt enters the wound it forces the moisture out of the cells. By removing the moisture, the cells that are causing the wound shrink and take the bacteria with them. Our saltiness will be effective as we identify the wrong and seek to replace it with right. Of course it would be wrong for us to imagine that Christians can eliminate evil and change the world into a lovely environment where all is sweetness and joy.The Bible clearly shows that world history moves on towards a time all power and authority will bow to God’s ultimate judgement, when time will cease, evil will be finally judged and Jesus will be seen to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our privilege is to bring something of that power to bring healing now, each of us in our own lifetime. Although our nation has long been described as ‘Christian Britain’, it is clear that this is no longer an accurate adjective. As successive governments frame laws, we find ourselves having to justify our Christian beliefs to those who see us as out of date, behind the times, lacking sense and unsympathetic to those who think differently. Yet we should not be surprised. Paul warned Timothy in the first century (2.Tim 3:2-5) that godlessness would be a constant challenge and we must on our guard to confront this. Our focus as those who ‘are salt’ is to show that Biblical values are not only for individuals but also communities, societies and nations and are the Words of God rather than the ideas of man.
 

Flavouring

 
We all, whether we know it or not, benefit from salt’s ability to enhance the flavour of food. We may not appreciate it’s presence but we certainly notice when it is absent. Food critics will tell you whether there is too much or too little and chefs will often make repeated checks as they cook.  Being salt will be seen in the way in which we bring a distinctly Christian flavour to our surroundings.
 
We must be careful to avoid the extremes of Christian expression. Although we are certain that God is sovereign and that he ultimately ensures that his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, we should not fight for a theocracy where all are forced into obeying God by the laws of a theocratic state.  This can be seen in its extreme form through the aims is ISIS, the ruthless group who believe their brand of religion must be imposed on society at all costs. Christians have been called to announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God and that this kingdom is to be seen in the lives of individuals who willingly choose to follow. The other error is to be coerced by popular opinion and modern social trends that our faith is essentially a private matter because ‘they say’ we are all at liberty to decide what truth is for ourselves. In this climate, it is increasingly important for Christians to live God-flavoured lives. When people ‘taste’ us, what flavour do they get? Paul (Col 4:5-6) reminds us to ‘let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt’. The essential message we bring is one of hope, life and transformation but this will often be confronted with rejection as it may seem so different and radical so it is important that we are gracious in every way without compromising the message.
 
Jesus added a very important aspect to our action. He pointed out that, not only should we be peacemakers in the middle of conflict, healers in the middle of broken-ness and introduce values into the middle of anarchy but the key result should be that God is seen as the sovereign over it all and is acknowledged and praised.
 


 

n December 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported the findings of a report by the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life which said that Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is.  The report chaired by the former senior Judge, Baroness Butler-Sloss, concluded that Britain should be systematically de-Christianized.
 
In January 2016 is was widely reported that William Nye who was a senior civil servant for 20 years said that Christianity was being ‘silenced’ by a secularizing spirit that is engulfing the Civil Service..  He said that the public would be surprised at the extent to which faith is seen as odd and unusual within the corridors of power.


 

Being Light


First century Jews were accustomed to the idea of light being symbolic. At the Feast of Tabernacles, amongst other things, they celebrated the light that God had given in the fiery cloud as a light to guide them on their long journey from slavery in Egypt to their homeland that God had promised. At the feast, they celebrated by lighting huge lamps to cast light throughout the temple and the surrounding city of Jerusalem. Towards the end of the feast as the lamps were going out, Jesus, in his preaching said (John 8:12) “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”. This was met with angry counter argument and a refusal to accept his plain speaking. As my mother often said, “There’s none so blind as those who won’t see”.
 
What I also find extraordinary is that Jesus should include his disciples in the mission to shine the light of God’s truth into this world. He said “I am the light of the world” which is one those seven amazing ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus that brings with it all the authority, power and promise of almighty God.  He then proceeded to involve the disciples in the same mission. We became Christians when we began to follow Jesus (I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me…). The truth that he showed us convinced us to choose to follow him. We are now those in whom God lives by his Spirit, so we become carriers of that light. This amazing miracle is an extraordinary privilege. You are light Jesus said, not you need to become light. We already are by virtue of his presence within us.


 In a democracy we must argue the Christian case publicly. Our nation’s problems are not primarily political or economic. They are moral and spiritual. Economic and political issues are very important and it is right for Christians to be involved in these areas. But how can our nation flourish when we are ignoring the moral basics? For too long Christians have failed to speak out. We must stand up for what we believe.
                   Extract from the website of The Christian Institute



Being salt and light are not two different ways of making our faith count. Jesus was using a variety of everyday pictures to describe our effectiveness. If being salt is to be engaged and active in society as we go about our daily lives in a quieter transformational way, being light suggests a more visible, public and confrontational aspect. Not that we should seek to confront, harangue or point the finger but in standing up for what we believe, we will be making ourselves much more visible.
 

What God has shined in – we can shine out

 
Light is one of the fundamental components of God’s creation. One of the very earliest commands of God was “let there be light”. It drives the universe. It is an essential building block of life. It fuels our planet. It will also be an essential element in heaven  but light of a different sort that does not need sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord gives it light and the Lamb its lamp. The nations will walk by its light and the kings of heaven will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut for there will be no night there. (Rev 21:23-25) That light will not just be commanded by the creator but will his very presence and character. This is the eternity that God has planned but in the meantime he calls us to become blameless and pure, children of God without fault as you shine like stars in the universe. (Phil 2:15). We are to shine like stars - clear, clean and constant in a world that has lost sight of God’s design for living. As travellers navigate their way across the world by tracking the stars, so we are called to be those who exert influence and guidance when others are looking for help and direction.

One of the amazing fundamentals of the Christian faith is that it is the result of God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9) and we are unable to bring anything of value to make ourselves right with God. What is also amazing is that he ‘shines’ into our lives the energy and ability to be active as disciples. Paul explains to the church in Corinth (2 Cor 4:6), For God who said “Let light shine out of darkness” has shined in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We are not left helpless and useless because it was all about God. Neither have we become like zombies, totally dominated and controlled by a force outside of us. God shone his truth into our lives so that we have come to see his glory when we saw Jesus Christ. We now carry this truth that has changed us and we are able to shine it out in everything we say and do.                                                                                                             
 

Fairy light or floodlight?

The media is very good at creating celebrities who make their mark by doing something that attracts attention and praise to themselves. The ego is fed and the public are hooked. How many children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up say” I want to be famous”?  For the Christian however, the focus needs to be on Jesus and the change that he brings. We may be the change-maker but we need to be sure that the change we bring is focussed on the people or group involved as we are seeking to bless them. Our focus needs to be on building the Kingdom of God in society and individual lives. Our involvement should be like a floodlight where all the attention is on the object being illuminated, not on the light source.
 

Shining a light on the truth

 
Jesus has called us to be purveyors of truth but many will ask, including Pilate at Jesus’ mock trial “What is truth?” After thousands of years, the very best of human philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Marx, James and others have grappled with this question with separate individual results. We have to decide where we take our lead from and for the Christian, this can only God. He has chosen to reveal himself in Jesus who said “I am the way the truth and the life”. The one book that has survived the worst that humanity could through at it is the Bible, which gives the world the most comprehensive and integrated revelation of God the creator and his heart of love. Time and time again, humanity has tried alternative paths with disastrous consequences as Romans chapter 1 outlines. Truth is theological because it emanates from the heart of God. Truth is also moral as it has a direct effect on how we live as part of God’s creation and truth is eternal because it comes from God who is unchanging and its implications cannot be discarded or modified to suit our own desires.
 
However kind you want to be, love has to be connected to the truth. We must be declarers of truth AND demonstrators of love. Eph 4:15 challenges us to speak the truth in love as this results in growth, development and health. One essential truth is found in Jesus’ message “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). The message we have is that the truth in Jesus can change imprisonment to liberation and guilt to forgiveness. Many normal looking faces hide lives that are messed up by regrets, fears and loneliness and we know that Jesus’ love is able to break through and bring release. Some are so sure that they are right in their anti-God views and seem impervious to what we say while other’s lives are so complicated and disaster-ridden that God is not even on their radar.
 


 

If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don't belong
Nations droppin' bombs
Chemical gasses fillin' lungs of little ones
With the ongoin' sufferin' as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin' really gone
So I can ask myself really what is goin' wrong
In this world that we livin' in people keep on givin' In
Makin' wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin' each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin' on but the reason's undercover
The truth is kept secret, it's swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love.                   
             Black Eyed Peas: Where is the Love?



One such was Peter Gladwin who survived a horrendous fire when only one year old and was wheelchair bound as a result until aged 7. At age 13, he was imprisoned for three months. At 15, he was severely injured in a knife attack. At 24, he was the victim of a hit-and-run. When he was 27, he received a phone call from his brother to say his father, who was a drinker and a gambler, had committed suicide. After this his own addictions led him to attempt suicide but was distracted at the last minute. Unbeknown to him, his sister had become a Christian eight weeks previously and said to him “God loves you”. This hit him so hard.  He recalls “As she spoke the word of God into my heart, it was like sitting in a dark room and someone opening the curtains and the light streaming through into my mind, heart, body and spirit. Within a few seconds I was crying down the telephone, asking Jesus Christ to come into my life. As I did so, I saw in the corner the room, either Jesus or an angel saying “Come to me and I will give you rest”. I knew I didn’t want to kill myself anymore. I gave my life to Jesus”.  (Extract from Christianity magazine, July 2016)
 
As we seek to bring God’s truth into our conversations and arguments, we do not need to defend it. It is God’s truth and it stands on its own authority. As we share it, God, by his Spirit will reveal it to those who want to receive it. 
 

Shining a light on sin

 
Sin is a largely obsolete words nowadays. It is seldom used because there are few things that are considered wrong. We like to talk about misspeaking instead of lying or misappropriating instead of stealing. We talk about crimes and a regrettable lapse in standards to mask what is actually sin. Karl Menninger, an American psychiatrist, in his book ‘Whatever Became of Sin?’ says ‘sin cannot be dismissed as merely a cultural taboo or social blunder. It must be taken seriously….To ignore it would be dishonest. To confess it would enable us to do something about it’. We could react by saying “Whatever is the world coming to?!” and so passing the problem on to someone else to deal with. We could ignore it, allowing the problem to continue and escalate or we could ask the Lord to show us if he wants to do something about it. Of course we cannot solve the world’s problems but we may be able to help to bring God’s truth to bear in one situation.
 
Be careful to recognise when it’s your personal ‘right and wrong’ as opposed to their ‘right and wrong’. As we work, speak and act to bring purity, preservation and the flavour of God into life, we must remember that many people today will have no understanding of God or the Bible message.  Western society is increasingly built on pluralistic and relativistic values where each one is free to decide what is right and wrong. As we seek to be salt and light, we are bringing God’s truth and love into a situation so our words and actions are to be a demonstration of that. We are a link between God and the person/situation/group.
 
Yet, as Christians, we are sure that the message of Jesus IS true. It is also, essentially, a message of love. We have received the forgiving and restoring love of a Holy God. As we endeavour to bring influence and change, our attitude must grow out of our experience. Jesus dealt with our sinfulness by his ultimate expression of love and now he calls us to confront sin by loving the people and allowing God’s truth to be seen in all its transforming power.
 
Jesus had the awesome power of cramming the maximum message into the minimum of words. When we hear him saying this is the verdict: Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed (John 3:19-20), he speaks directly to our deepest conscience and we know he is right. When we are able convey the power of the message of Jesus, he is able to bring his transforming power to bear.

Be careful to ensure that our walk is consistent with our words. We must seek at all times to ‘walk the talk’.  Many people are not so much interested in whether your message is true; rather they want to know if it is real; does it make a difference? When we choose to affect and change things, we are likely targets for criticism, abuse and hate and we may well be held against an impossibly high standard of morality. Of course, we know we cannot attain that but by our sincerity, involvement and willingness to make things happen our message can have space to grow and have effect.
 


When viewed from the South Korean border, the North Korean border town of Kijong-dong appears to contain many normal buildings; brightly painted houses, hospital, school, day-care centre but devoid of real people living normal lives.  They are only concrete shells patrolled by maintenance workers.  There is no glass in the windows and lights are switched on at night by time switch.
              Source: New York Post


 

Shining a light on Jesus

 
George, a bright 5yr old, was in his usual Sunday school class when the teacher asked them “What is grey has two floppy ears and hops?” George was conflicted in his alert mind. Of course he was well aware that the obvious answer was “a rabbit”. He was also bright enough to realise that there is really only one answer to any question in Sunday School and so he decided to go with this and shouted out confidently, “Jesus!”
 
Our advanced level of sophistication warns us that this is too simple an answer to many of life’s questions. The world is not going take me seriously if I say this! Yet, because we know that “Jesus is the answer for the world today”, in the words of the Andrae Crouch song from the seventies, our motivation, our attitude and our action can be fuelled and strengthened by our total conviction that Jesus is the source and strength of our life. We should never be ashamed to say that he is Lord, (1Pet 3:15) after all, we have come to know his forgiveness and transforming power.
 


Today’s culture is not only chronologically far removed from the culture of the Bible, it is also far removed from its assumptions and thought processes.
               Stephen McQuoid: Sharing the Good News in the 21st Cent



  

His Story - My Story

 
Being salt and light involves me telling my story but this will only true and significant because of Jesus’ story. As we come to appreciate and understand what Jesus has done and is doing in us, so our story can become more meaningful and sincere; we can explain through our ‘Jesus-experience’ rather than by reciting phrases and texts that we have learnt. This raises the question ‘What has Jesus done in and through me?’ Can I list a few things that have happened to me because of Jesus? ‘What has happened to me that makes me different from what I was before?’
 
 

His Story

 
We will never know the details of what passed between the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and Jesus when he walked with them and explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27) What Jesus said burned into their hearts and changed their understanding so that they accepted him as the messiah. His birth, his life, his death and resurrection now made sense. His story is woven throughout the pages of the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation which shows us that our salvation and faith are grounded in the greatest story ever told.
 

My Story

 
The man whose life was completely changed through meeting Jesus, as told in Mark 5, may appear to be a one-off occasion that will not occur again but the prime purpose for Jesus’ coming into the world was to deal with the question of sin; something that each one of us has to face. The man in Mark 5 was troubled by it just as we are. Jesus’ instruction to him was go and tell how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. (Mark 5:19).
 


A woman in her mid-twenties recently said to me “I’m not remotely interested in whether what you are saying is true – I want to know if it is real”
“What do you mean by real?” I asked.
“Real means that you have actually experienced this truth in your life.  It’s not some dogma that exists only in your mind but has never touched your heart” she replied.  “I want to hear what you have experienced, what makes life work for you far more than I want to hear some so-called truth".
Rebacca Manley-Pippert: Out of the Saltshaker



What Jesus has done for us is the essential story that we have to tell. His mercy holds back the judgement that should have been ours because of sin. His grace showers forgiveness on us when we confess and trust in him despite us not being deserving of it. His love fills us with his presence and power so we can make him known to others and his plan is to unite us all in eternity with him. This is the story that energises us to trust him through all the experiences of life. As Rebecca Manley-Pippert says in her book Out of the Saltshaker, ‘The world hungers, perhaps without knowing it, for examples of evidence in people’s lives. They want to know if God works? Has he brought us identity and meaning? Have we experienced his love in ways that fulfil and complete us?’ Writing your own story could help to focus your mind on the answers to these questions, applying the wonderful truths of the Bible and combining this with your own experiences of God’s hand upon your life and how Jesus is Lord.
 

But you are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that
you may declare the praises of him who called you out of
darkness into his wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

 
When Jesus says ‘you are the light of the world’, he is calling us to tell his story and our story. We tell it as we live our daily lives. We tell it as we seek to influence people and society, extending the Kingdom of God and we tell it as we speak clearly and plainly of how God’s world is best lived in God’s way.
 

Kingsley Dent, 19/07/2016