This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
MATTHEW 5: 11-16
And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad—for your reward in Heaven is magnificent. They persecuted the prophets before your time in exactly the same way.
13 “You are the earth’s salt. But if the salt should become tasteless, what can make it salt again? It is completely useless and can only be thrown out of doors and stamped under foot.”
14-15 “You are the world’s light—it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house.
16 “Let your light shine like that in the sight of men. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven
There are people I know who have suffered for the sake of Jesus. I’m just going off to Northern Ireland where I’m preaching this Sunday. I shall meet people there who stood firm for peace and justice amidst the sectarian troubles in that place. People who have not experienced the savage pressures of such a conflict cannot imagine what courage it takes to be a true disciple of Jesus in those circumstances.
I think of faithful people in Egypt now, who have always tried to live at peace with their Moslem neighbours but now find their churches burnt and their lives threatened in the name of Allah.
I think of those who have fought a long and lonely battle for homosexual equality in the Christian Church, who suffer their worst abuse from fellow Christians.
These are the salt of the earth. The translation above takes it that the salt is being used as a seasoning. That’s a possible interpretation. More likely however it is being used as a preservative, for meat and fish. It was also used as fertiliser for the soil. I think of it as a preservative which prevents food from going rotten. The disciples of Jesus, who suffer persecution, preserve society from going rotten, if they maintain their own true nature.
These disciples are not representing a secret religion but a private and public good. The good things they do, as well as their stubborn allegiance to Jesus, are visible to all. Any temptation for disciples to become a religious sect should be resisted.
This is the kind of evangelism envisaged by Jesus. Open communication of Jesus’ life and message; open demonstration of practical goodness.