In the midst of an ever-changing world caused by an invasive virus, we find ourselves in a time of uncertainty. Although I would love to address something other than the pink elephant in the room, I …
In the midst of an ever-changing world caused by an invasive virus, we find ourselves in a time of uncertainty. Although I would love to address something other than the pink elephant in the room, I feel justified in continuing to encourage and challenge us during this quarantined life we are living. We may, though, find advice that is good for our current landscape might just fit well regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Lately, we’ve seen a variety of responses to the difficult state facing us. We’ve seen examples of humanity taking a “me-first” approach to all sorts of choices, from toilet tissue to Vitamin C. We’ve also seen folks reach out to help those around them by picking up necessities and even offering to go through a fast food drive-thru for a trucker. So, we find ourselves first discouraged by the selfishness of humanity and then we gain a spark of encouragement by witnessing selfless acts.
Ingrained in our souls is an awareness of what is good and what is not. It is an ongoing struggle to choose the good and hold off the not-so-good.
But what should be our plumb line for these decisions? On what should we base our actions? Where do we encounter advice that can direct us not only through the difficulties of the current, but give us marching orders for the everyday?
We find such assistance in our Bible. For three chapters, five through seven, in the book of Matthew, we find the words of Jesus as he instructs us in the daily.
He speaks of how we should treat our enemies as well as our friends. He talks to us about divorce and giving to the needy. There are guidelines for worry and prayer, true and false teachers and wise and foolish builders. A little bit about a lot.
As Jesus starts his instruction that we call the Sermon on the Mount, we see a great overarching idea put forth that guides the rest of his training for us. He talks about salt and light and their effects on the world around them.
Jesus tells his followers, and us, that we are the salt of the earth. In other words, we both season and help preserve those around us by closely following his instructions to us. In other words, the things we do should be encouraging and helpful. Because, he warns, what good is salt if it has lost its saltiness. It is worthless.
He goes on to compare us to lights; Jesus calls his followers lights of the world. Light gives direction in darkness. It shows us the way we should go and what to avoid. And no one lights a lamp and then covers it up. They let it shine so it is useful.
We are to be that light. We should live our life in such a way as to be helpful and able to lead others and ourselves through the darkness that surrounds us all too often. We need to reflect the light given off by the source of light as guidance through uncertainty much like what we face presently.
As he calls us lights, he finishes this discourse with these words, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in Heaven.”
Good deeds, you say, and there it is. We must reflect our father in heaven with good deeds.
So, when those daily decisions confront us and we are contemplating what decision is right for the moment, let these words guide us. Consider how we might be salt that pleasantly seasons and preserves our world and how we might shine a light so that others will be helped by our choices and actions.
(Jon Allen is the associate pastor of Grace Point in Powell.)