Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world… let your light shine that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
What “good works” are these?
Having been nurtured by “the church growth movement,” when I hear “salt and light,” I think of marketing, management, and . . . manipulation.
Well, Jesus doesn’t say, “Be salty” or even, “Shine the light;” he says, “You are the salt… You are the light… Let it shine.”
“You” bring flavor and meaning to this world. “You” are a masterpiece.
Who is Jesus talking to?
None of those that he was talking to had been to seminary, ever stepped foot in a church, or even heard of the “the sinner’s prayer.” They were the Jews and gentiles that followed Jesus up a little mountain and just heard him say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, those hungry for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those persecuted for righteousness sake—for my sake. Blessed are you. You are the salt. You are the light of the world.”
The people to whom Jesus was speaking had very little ability to market themselves, manage their world, or manipulate the people around them.
We tend to think that we are most potent when we can market ourselves, manage our world, and manipulate the people around us.
Jesus seems to think just the opposite.
I suspect that I believe in God because I encountered him in my dad, the pastor—not so much his sermons or instructions—but his eyes, his voice, his touch.
I encountered God in my dad when he could no longer market himself, manage his world, or manipulate those around him; when I watched him get crucified by his church and his world—crucified and yet still speak truth and bleed mercy.
In my dad, I encountered Love.
To market Love is called prostitution.
To manage Love is to turn the Life of Love into a law.
To manipulate Love is to nail the Life of Love to a tree in a garden.
God is Love and His Word is the Light of the World.
And yet to these people, Jesus said, “You are the Light of the World.”
You can’t make yourself Jesus; but maybe Jesus can make you himself.
He talks as if these folks are his body, and the “real you” is him.
If “the real you” is the thing that shines, then the “you” that doesn’t let it shine must be “the false you”—the “bushel basket,” the thing we use to measure ourselves, the thing we produce whenever and wherever we try to market, manage, and manipulate ourselves—the ego, the body of “flesh,” the earthen vessel.
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God.”
When your ego is shattered but you continue to Love in Truth, and speak Truth in Love, the world can see the King sitting on the throne in the Sanctuary of your soul.
Then the light shines through the cracks of your earthen vessel, and you are more beautiful than you know. You—the vulnerable, authentic, and real you—are God’s masterpiece.
“Of you” consists the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom that is at hand.
Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece, Starry Night, is valued at over 100 million dollars, and yet he sold only one painting—not that painting—his entire life.
Only one; and yet, through rejection, failure, and shame, he kept painting.
It wasn’t marketing, management, or manipulation; it was worship.
It’s been said that, “He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty.”
I would say, “He saw Beauty and reflected that Beauty through the cracks of his shattered ego, his broken earthen vessel.” God is Beauty and Jesus is the Beautiful One.
Imagine Van Gogh touring Musee D’Orsay in 2010, discovering that he had painted the world’s most valuable art, and he himself is a masterpiece of Grace.
You will have a day like that, for it will be revealed that you are the very best at being you.
You make great art, and you are revealed as great art when you lose your ego and find yourself worshipping the Lord; your eyes reflect his Glory—the Light of the world.
The Greek term translated “good work,” is also translated “beautiful deeds,” and used in only one other place in the Gospel of Matthew.
A woman, likely a prostitute, loses all sense of propriety, breaks a flask of expensive perfumed oil, and dumps it over Jesus’ head just before he is betrayed and crucified.
Jesus says, “She has done a beautiful deed,” (the “kalos ergon”).
She didn’t market, manage, or manipulate. She just ignored the crowd as she surrendered to the light of Love shining in the eyes of her Lord.
She—the harlot bride of Christ—is the salt of this earth and the light of the world.
She watches as we all nail our Lord to the tree in the middle of the garden.
Her eyes reflect the Beauty.
Look at him: How’s this for poor in spirit, mourning, meek, thirsty, merciful, pure, and persecuted for righteousness sake? “Father forgive them.”
How’s this for a beautiful deed, the salt of the earth, and the light of the world?
This is Maximum Potency. This is Love. And you are his masterpiece.