“Salt Versus Light”

Categories: Bulletin Articles


Most Christians are familiar with the twin descriptions of disciples in Matthew 5:13-16.  There, Jesus tells us that we are to be both the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  However, we’re not as quick to recognize that these two commandments are in tension.  The problem is that being salty has a tendency to make us less bright, and being bright tends to make us less salty.

The key attribute of saltiness is distinctiveness.  Christians are supposed to have a different savor than the people of the world do.  If we are adulterated so that we become like the people of the world, we have lost our savor, and we are useless for God’s purposes.

Universally, dedicated Christians are aware of this danger.  They see that exposure to worldliness will make them more worldly, so they avoid worldliness as much as they can.  Even outside of the assembly, their best friends are other strong Christians.  If they can, they will take jobs that allow them to work with brethren instead of worldly people.  They home-school their children or send them to private Christian schools, with the goal or at least the result that those children are insulated from worldliness as well.  By the time I was eight, I had already heard every cuss word in the book.  I don’t think my home-schooled eight-year-old daughter has.

In many ways, all of these are wise decisions, and I think brethren make them with the best of motives.  In fact, every one of those things is something I’ve done.  However, we have to recognize that all this protected saltiness can come at the cost of being a light.

Jesus says, after all, that we are supposed to be the light of the world, and it is precisely the world from which many Christians have isolated themselves.  In the midst of my Christian friends, Christian co-workers, and educational environment in which all the adults are Christians, I have no trouble going through an entire day without saying a single word to someone who is lost.  As a result, there are high-school kids with a bunch of friends in the world who bring 10 times as many lost people to our assemblies as I do.

The point here is not that we should avoid having Christian friends and Christian co-workers and Christian-friendly educational choices.  I think it’s hard to go to heaven without the first, and the second and third are at least beneficial.  However, we must admit that all that insulation from the world comes at a cost, and if we want to save the lost, we first must encounter the lost.  Salt that has lost its savor is useless, but so too is a light that spends all its time huddling under a basket with other lights.