We have an immense amount of influence over others and as followers of Christ, we want that influence to be positive. While we wait for the Kingdom to be completed with Jesus's return, we wait patiently in readiness. To help us Jesus taught that we are to be the salt and the light (Matthew 5:13-16).
These are more metaphors than parables, but they certainly cast a visual picture to illustrate His meaning. As part of the Sermon on the Mount, these verses are to the crowd and the disciples, who have sat down close to Him (Matthew 5:1).
Salt today is not as valuable as it was in the 1st century. In a world, with no fridges or freezers, salt was one of the key ways to preserve food. So valuable was it that Roman soldiers would be paid in it, and we get the expression, "they're not worth their salt" if a person is found wanting in the delivery of their work. To be the salt of the earth you must add distinctiveness to the flavor of life on earth. Jesus is talking about our general witness to the world through all that we do as Christians. That we should follow Him and obey his teachings.
While light, especially from a lamp used to illuminate a dark room, could not be any better metaphor for our influence into the Kingdom of darkness. One where light can push into the darkest of spaces. It is why lighthouses on the edge of cliffs are so effective. Our lives, our lives that are to be like salt, must also penetrate into our immediate environment, and into all of our relationships.
If we remove ourselves from the culture, how do we show the light in the darkness? Monasteries and abbeys, closed-off communities, and even Christians who stay isolated from the earthliness of this world close off what we have been called to do. Our response to the great commandment will only ever be partially completed. We need to be aware of our role in society. We are to be the salt and the light in our immediate worlds, whether that's our workplace, our homes, our local communities, or even our nation.
Positive action towards assisting asylum seekers, standing against gambling and domestic violence. Issues that are not a million miles from our door, yet so often ignored by Christians.
Turning our attention to one of the most well-known parables taught by Jesus, "The Good Samaritan" (Luke 10:30-37), we see Jesus use this in response to how one can inherit eternal life. The expert in the law provides us with the greatest commandment after correctly quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He follows up by asking a follow-up question:
Who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:29)
The scribe (wanting to justify himself) wants to reduce the list of people he is required to help. He wants to filter people out. It's like an internet search that's produced too many results. We must edit out and remove! Jesus, however, provides us with such a practical message. A neighbour is one in need who we can help. Not defined by religion, race, nationality, beliefs, ability, gender age, or any of the ways mankind tends to box people. Jesus removes all borders and boundaries, telling us that our response is to hear and see, and also to do! Just as the Samaritan did. He saw the same scene as the Priest and the Levite, yet it is our response that shows us who is our neighbour is and how we are to act when we are citizens of the Kingdom of God!
How do we usually describe the emotion that dives the Sarmatian's response?
The Samaritan was:
Willing to cross social barriers
Willing to take risks
Willing to set aside busy schedules
Willing to make sacrifices
Further along in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to "go the extra mile" (verse 41). Again, in response to a Roman law, Jesus answers this law with the extension of grace. Jews were commanded by law to carry a Roman citizen's bag for a mile if requested, yet we should follow this up by carrying it a further mile out of grace.
What sacrifices did the Samaritan make in this parable?
- provisions (own oil & wine)
- time (stopped and bandaged)
- energy (access to the donkey, meaning he walked)
- money (the inn payment)
If you were the man that had been robbed, what would your response be to the Samaritan?
Jesus leaves us with a clear instruction following this parable...
God and do likewise (Luke 10:37)