July 7, 2021

July 7, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
July 07, 2021

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:1-16

This is the most famous sermon ever preached, to come unto the ears of men. Notice how it begins. It begins with eight beatitudes. I can’t help but think the Lord Jesus was drawing from the Old Testament when he picked up that word blessed and understood the psalms that begin with that word blessed. Those eight beatitudes stress character. Generations of Bible expositors have said, “The eight beatitudes are revolutionary.” When you think of how the world describes the beautiful people in the world they focus on the outward, the faces, they focus upon the body, the outward man. But when Christ describes the most beautiful people he focuses upon the God-fearing graces that have been planted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Here are the most beautiful people in the world: poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers and those who are persecuted.

Then he also picks up two metaphors, two graphic illustrations that were common everyday essentials back in those days, salt and light. He uses them to describe every child of God, every kingdom Christian. You are the light of the world, you are the salt of the earth. What’s interesting here is that this is in the verb tense of an indicative, not an imperative. That is significant. He is saying, “This is who you are.” He is not telling them what you should be or how you should behave, this is who you are. Just like you’re a child of God, this is who you are. You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.

One of the saddest things we could say about the last year or so due to the COVID 19 restrictions is that there was minimal, or little or no face to face engagement. There wasn’t the kind of engagement that we enjoyed with one another as a church. We all know that that is not good for anybody, it is not good for man to be alone. It wasn’t just the isolation from the people of God, but even from the world. What I thought interesting during that whole time frame is we saw more violence and more crime take place in our cities I think in our life history. It seemed to me that it looked like this country was almost imploding with anger, bitterness, and hate before our very eyes.

We could point to the devil, I realize that, he is the god of this world. We could point to human sin and depravity, men have to take responsibility for what they do. But I also think we should not forget the light/salt metaphor.

When Christians are isolated from the world, it’s not good for the world. This world didn’t experience the light of the gospel shining in their eyes. They didn’t experience the salt of witness, Christian witness in their schools, in their neighborhoods, in their cities and workplace; and the world became a darker place.

Here is the point I want to make: the world desperately needs Christian influence and gospel witness. It is very clear from this sermon where Jesus gives these eight beatitudes, he closes off on the beatitude of persecution. Blessed are they that are persecuted. He wants for us to know that the world will never love us. Let’s not kid ourselves. Persecution will be part and parcel of Christian life and experience. But we need to pray that we would shine like lights brighter. When the world gets darker we have more opportunity to shine brighter. The world is going to notice us more. And we are to be the salt of the earth. That salt was to add flavor but it was also to retard decay or evil. We are not to hide our lights under bushels and we are not to run away from the world, we are not to hide from the world. The world needs Christian witness. You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world. We are vital preservatives in this society. That to a large degree explains America for so many years. There is probably no country in all the world that has had so much gospel lives and gospel souls.

We should pray, Brethren that as some of you go back into the workplace, have more engagement with the world at school, in the supermarket, in your neighborhoods, sitting in restaurants, going to your local park, that we would look and pray for ways to shine lights and be salt. You could say these are evangelistic metaphors. They are calling us to be redemptively engaged in this present world.