January 25, 2021
You are the hope our world needs! I have said this before, but it bears repeating: The Church is the hope of the world. God’s people are the hope of the world. And that makes you the hope of the world. But sometimes we don’t live like we believe this. And the reason for this is that we’ve grown accustomed to putting our hope in what politicians can do for us. And when our guy wins, we celebrate, and our hopes our buoyed. But when our guy loses, we fret, and our hopes are shattered.
And that frustrates me, because God’s Word is very clear on this: God made you different so you can make a difference in our world. But the problem is that most Christians don’t really believe this. We would rather put our hope in some politician or some movement rather than the very people who Jesus put His life in. Think about this with me: The moment you put your trust in Jesus, God put His life in you so could show the world there’s a new way to live. And the moment you put your trust in Jesus, God put His light in you, so that you could show the world what God is really like. And if you and I can really believe this, then we will live this, and yes, we will be THE HOPE OUR WORLD NEEDS!
So I’m going to ask you to open your Bibles to Matthew 5:13-16, to where Jesus gets very specific about what makes you and I so very different from the world, and how embracing what makes us different can bring hope to our world. So if you’ve found Matthew 5:13, let’s read this text like we were hearing it for the very first time. Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
So let’s first of all look at the first characteristic that makes you so very different from our world – that makes you the hope our world needs. Jesus says,” You are the salt of the earth”
Salt has two purposes. Salt is used as a condiment for flavor and a preservative to prevent decay. Now, a couple months back I spoke about our role as salt being a flavor. As the salt of the earth, Jesus leaves us here to live a different kind of life to create a thirst for grace. What happens is this. When you first come to faith in Jesus, God downloads the very life of Christ into you. The one who John said is full of grace and truth now lives in you by His Spirit. And He begins to change you. And as you change and become more and more like Jesus, the influence of His life in you begins to flow out of you and works like a seasoning all around you. So that now wherever you live, your words, your actions, your very presence begins to season your world with the flavor of God’s grace.
This flavor begins to season your relationships. When you are patient with the person who irritates you, you season that relationship with grace; when you forgive of the one who hurts you, you season that relationship with mercy; when you accept the one who is not like you: when you help rather than ignore, when you welcome rather than reject – whenever you do any of these things you season your world with grace. And when you are salting rather than assaulting, you don’t just show the world another way to live, your life creates a thirst for God. Salt is a seasoning of grace. It flavors your world through your life.
Salt is also a preservative. Salt prevents decay or corruption. As such, your new nature, the Christ in you, is meant to be a preserving influence in the world around you. Your life now has the potential to prevent further corruption in our world. This is why you are the hope our world needs. And here is where understanding the context reveals your potential to hinder the corruption around you.
We’ve just unpacked each one of the beatitudes. Every characteristic of the beatitudes reveals a lifestyle that is opposite of the corrupt way of the world. For example: when you are poor in spirit, when you are consciously aware of your sinfulness and need of God, you will not be a proud and arrogant person. You will display a humbleness our world needs. In the world, it is the proud who only look out for themselves. It is the proud who use people, walk over people and who cause fights and divisions to get what they want. Listen to how James describes this: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. James 4:1-2 However, the humble do not fight and quarrel. Rather, the humble listen. The humble serve. The humble help others. As Paul writes: the humble do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility value others above themselves. Philippians 2:3.
Humility is what our world needs. When we serve people in humility, we stop the decay. We bring hope. This is one of the areas God is showing me where I need to become more like Jesus. To listen more, react less, and look for ways to serve and help – to be a bridge for healing and love. Our world today doesn’t need more Christian fighters, it needs more humble servants.
But that’s just one example of being a preservative against the corruption of our world. Here’s another: Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” People today need mercy, not judgment. Remember, in Jesus day, mercy was in short supply. Those who should have majored in mercy, the religious elite, were not inclined to show mercy, because mercy was not a characteristic of someone who was proud, and self-righteous. This is still true in our world today. There is a growing spirit of self-righteous judgment today. With this attitude, some are quick to silence you, condemn you or even destroy you. This the whole mindset behind those in the cancel culture. But we are to be the Jesus culture. And the Jesus culture shows the world a different way to live. People who belong to Jesus are to be the salt of the earth by giving mercy, not by always criticizing or condemning. People who are the salt of the earth are quick to forgive. We choose to forgive just as God in Christ has forgiven us. When we give mercy, either by offering compassion to those in need, or simply by forgiving we show the world a different way to live – and we are being the salt of the earth. And our earth needs this kind of salt. You and I have the potential to stop the hateful rhetoric, and the judgmental climate we are living in. But it takes being the salt of the earth as Jesus says.
But here’s the thing. Jesus also says, “Salt can lose its saltiness.” Now, salt can never lose its chemical composition as salt, but it can lose its effectiveness if it is polluted. So what Jesus is saying here, is that even though we are the salt of the earth, and can prevent the decaying of our culture, we can also lose our effectiveness. How? Easy, by becoming just like the world: Living only for self; having no mercy; showing no kindness; arguing with those who think differently than you; refusing to forgive and having nothing to do with those who are not like you. When you do those things you resemble the world, not Jesus.
But, here’s the good news. If Christ is in you, you don’t have to lose your saltiness. If you’ve acted arrogantly, if you’ve been selfish; if you’ve been unforgiving, judgmental or ungracious – you have the ability to change – you have Christ’s Spirit in you. All you have to do is return to your true self – embrace who you are. Let the Christ in you, live through you. Confess your sin and return to Christ. He promises to cleanse you and purify you of all unrighteousness. You can become effective salt again! Then, if you’ve judged someone, argued with someone, written off someone, you can go to them and apologize. Ask for their forgiveness. You may not get your forgiveness, but you will show them another way – and you will be salty.
This is what our world needs. Our world needs Christ followers to live like Christ followers: to be humble, repentant people, who are meek and merciful, gracious and kind, always seeking the good for others. As salt of the earth we have the potential to reverse the course of corruption and evil in our world. Sure we can pray and ask God to heal our land. But Jesus has put us here to season our world with grace. We can be peddlers of grace, agents of mercy, humble people who can show our world that there is another way to live. And if we can do that, we will show the world there is hope. You are the salt of the earth and that makes you the hope of the world. God made you different so you can make a difference!
Now, that’s one way Jesus says we are different. Here now is the other way. Jesus says, You are the light of the world Let me read this again: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
As the salt of the earth God leaves us here to prevent decay. However, the role of light is different. It’s positive. Light illumines the darkness. Think with me about the darkness in our world today. The biblical world view is that the world is corrupted and decayed, that it is dark and getting darker. I don’t think there are too many who would argue with that.
One prominent pastor said it this way: “The world cannot do anything but get worse, because it has no inherent goodness to build on, no inherent spiritual or moral life in which it can grow. Year after year the systems of evil accumulates a deeper darkness.”
He goes on to say, “Man has increased in scientific, medical, historical, educational, psychological and technological knowledge to an astounding degree. But man has not changed his own basic nature… Man is infected with the deadly virus of sin, which has no cure apart from God.”
This is why Jesus calls us the light of the world. Just as he came into the world as light to reveal what the Father is like. Jesus calls us the light of the world to remind us that our role is to reveal what Jesus is like. Therefore, we are not to hide our light, but to let our light shine for the world to see.
And the way we let our light shine is by our good works. The word for “good” here is meant to emphasize attractiveness or beauty. Therefore, whenever shine our light, whenever we do a good work, we reveal the beauty of Jesus. Not to bring attention to ourselves, so that people will see our good works and praise us. No, but to see our good works and praise God.
This is how you and I are meant to make a difference in our world. When you do a good deed, you show what Jesus is like. When you give a cup of water to the least of these your reveal His grace. When you forgive you reveal His mercy. When you heal a broken relationship you reveal His peace. When you include you reveal His love. And when people see your changed life you reveal His hope. That’s why you are the hope our world needs.
Your light is the dynamic that brings hope to a world lost in darkness. Our world is looking for life. Remember this is what Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 This is why we are to let the light of Jesus shine through our lives. We are here to bring our world hope. You are here to bring our world hope. That’s why Jesus says of us: “You are the light of the world.” For you are the hope our world needs. You are different because the light of Jesus lives in you. God made you different so you can make a difference. So let your light shine:
- Be poor in spirit. Don’t be ashamed of your spiritual poverty. Be humble. Listen, serve, help. Remember that God draws near to the humble but opposes the proud.
- Be a Mourner over sin. Let the things that break God’s heart break yours. Live as someone who has been forgiven, so you will no longer judge but have compassion for those who are evil.
- Be meek. Stop falling for the world’s use power or politics to get what you want Be a gentle and kind like Jesus. Take His yoke upon you, learn to live like Him.
- Hunger and thirst after Righteousness: Seek first His kingdom and righteousness. Embrace your kingdom citizenship. This world is not your home. Bring about a new revolution of righteousness, love, joy and peace. The rest of the Sermon on the Mount will focus on this new kind of life – this righteous way of living. People need to see and know this other way of living in the kingdom – and when they do, we will give them hope.
- Be merciful. Become a student of Christ’s heart. Let His compassion become your compassion. Then when God moves your heart for someone in need, you won’t hesitate, you’ll be able to act on it.
- Be pure in heart. Be devoted to God, not to this world. Put your energy into learning God’s will, seek to please Him, then when things in this world don’t please you, you won’t lose heart.
- Be a peacemaker: Be a creative and aggressive force for good in all your relationships. Look for ways to build bridges not walls. Listen to hurts and struggles of those around you. Live at peace with all people, especially those who are not like you.
- Be winsome. Rejoice and be glad. Live above the chaos and darkness. Set apart Christ as Lord in your heart. Don’t let the things that get others down steal your joy. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Find joy in all you have in Jesus and show the world a better way to live.
The whole point of the beatitudes is for you to let Jesus change how you see your life, so you might become the hope our world needs. Our world cannot stop itself from going bad. But God made you different so you can slow its deterioration. The question is: Do you believe this? Do you believe God can use you to bring hope to our world through your humility, gentleness, mercy and peace? That’s why you are here – to show the world a different way to live and bring them hope!
Not only that, but our world is lost in darkness. So God made you light, so that through your life you would reveal the beauty of Jesus, tell the truth of God’s grace and magnify God’s glory through your good works. That’s why you are here. God made you different so your life can make a difference. But do you believe this? If you do, then you will refuse to get caught up in the ways of this world but show them another way – the way of Jesus. This world doesn’t need to keep falling apart. There is hope for this world. But it rests in you. For as Jesus says, you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world – and because of that: You are the hope our world needs.