Matthew 5.13-20 (NASB)
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
15“nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
We are to be salt, which adds flavor and preserves. We are not to be the meat, but to preserve society. We should be praying for our lost neighbors. Our concern should not be coercion, but transformation. There is no call here to change the meat, but to flavor the meat, to preserve it.
We are to be a city on the hill. We are to stand out and shine. Once again, no call to leave the city and coerce people to join us. We are to be an influence, not a bludgeon. People should see our light and notice there is something different about us. They should see our “good works” and glorify God. They should notice a difference, in attitude, demeanor, outlook, etc. We should not just do different things, we should have a different perspective on them too. Others will do good things, but not with the same motives and perspective as one who follows the Messiah.
Jesus says that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill them. It is interesting to see that He said no stroke will disappear until all is fulfilled. Was this a reference to His death and resurrection? Certainly the sacrificial laws are now abolished, since Jesus fulfilled those laws. Does this mean all of the laws are abolished? or unneeded? I think we cannot determine that here, but from other passages this may become more clear. We should especially see how the early Church interpreted the need for the law. In Acts we see that while the principles of the Old Covenant law is still helpful, they are no longer binding. Especially the Pharisaical rules have been put aside. The news “laws” are based on love. The commandments that Jesus highlights as the greatest involve loving God with everything we are, and loving others. The Church today still wrestles with balancing love and law. How do we hold to a standard of holiness while maintaining the love our Messiah modeled for us?
Lord, may you somehow work Your miracle in us so that we may be an example of Your love to those around us. Praise Your name. May we live by Your Spirit, for without that we cannot love as You would … and hence cannot do anything of real value, if we believe Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. Lord, may Your love shine through us and help us be a beacon that draws others to You. May we, through our love and prayer, preserve and flavor our society.