Salt & Light in Florida - A Testimony on Missional Living
13 “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. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 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 5:13-16
Me, my wife and two daughters were in Florida last week. On Valentine’s Day, my wife and I went on a dinner date together. Our waitress was Kelly. She had a tattoo on her forearm that read - “Believe”. My heart felt prompted to ask her what it meant. She then went on to explain how one of her friends died, and she wants to believe that she lives on somewhere and that she will see her again. The tattoo reminds her of her friend and reminds her to just “believe”. Stephanie and I listened and gave her our condolences. Another part of our conversation was how she went through all of the “sacraments” and how she wants to believe that perhaps it’s enough but she just doesn’t know. I told her that “you don’t have to do anything to go to heaven, it’s simple faith in Christ and what he has done on the cross”. She sort of indifferently obliged and went to her next table. Further into our dinner, my heart felt prompted to start pressing more, so I asked her if we could pray with her. She excitedly agreed. We prayed for her and I prayed the Gospel into her ears. She left the table giddy and jubilant and I could overhear her telling her co-workers at the hostess podium. We eventually finished up and got the check and my heart felt prompted to give her a shockingly large tip, and so we did. And on the check, I wrote, “Kelly, thank you for serving us so well, please read and STUDY John 4:1-30. God bless.”
My wife and I listened, we spoke, we shared, we prayed, we gave her a tangible blessing, and we left. What’s the point of all of this story? As Christians, we are called to be “salty”. Salt is a seasoning that applies a zesty taste to a food that otherwise might not taste so good. In our society, “salty” means being mad or in a bad mood. In the Bible, “salty” means to be different, to do things nobody else does, to be a flavorful people for Christ in our dealings with the world around us. In Jesus’ day, salt was a valued commodity, Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt, giving rise to the phrase “worth his salt”. Salt also was used to preserve meats and to slow decay. Christians should have a preserving influence for Christ on their culture. Being “salty” is to be looking for opportunities to season our surroundings with Jesus. It's reasonable to assume that it is highly unlikely that anybody else would have done the things we did for her that night. We were different. I am not boasting in what we did, but I am boasting in Christ and the goodness of his wisdom and commands if we will only obey them. And like the text above ends, our saltiness gives glory to our Father in heaven.
We will likely never see Kelly again in this life. But we left a trail of blessing behind us that I pray God uses. I don’t know if she will actually read and study John 4:1-30. I don’t know if she will ever put her faith and trust in Christ. Like we’re learning in our current sermon series through Acts - “Do Not Be Silent” - we are called to obediently, lovingly, and intentionally share and manifest the truth of the Gospel wherever and whenever possible. More often than not, we will never know the outcome of our obedience and we have to be okay with that. We must do our part, and then trust God to take over from there.
I wanted to share this story because I believe it is a good example of what it means to be “salt” and “light”. Like I said, it is highly unlikely that anybody else did any of the things we did for her that night. Kelly had an encounter with the people of Christ and it should have made a significant impact on her. I could have easily held the mentality of, “God, this is a Valentines Day dinner with my wife, can I please just put the mission away for a few hours?”. No. There is a lot at stake and I think we often forget that. Somebody was blessed that night. Perhaps she walked away thinking we were different, a flavorful people of the kind she has never encountered. Perhaps the ministry we gave her seasoned her heart even for just that night. Perhaps the ministry was the start of newness of life in Christ - we don’t know. In every single moment of every single situation, of every single day, we all have an opportunity to be “salt” and “light”, and to intentionally and strategically minister to people for Christ where we are, in the home and outside the home. But are we paying attention? Are we focused on our mission? Are we putting the distractions away? Are we going from self-centered to others-centered?
How can you be “salty” where you are? It’s not rocket science or parallelograms: Just be “on”. As followers of Christ, we don’t turn our missional Christianity on whenever we want or only on Sunday mornings. It must always be on. There really isn’t even a switch, or an option. Being missional is part of the fabric of who we are. Being “on” is just who we are if we are living out the gospel and surrendered to God’s mission in the world as we should be. Yes, even on date nights. We are missional people and we must be paying attention. Unfortunately, I don’t always pay attention to my surroundings, but for some reason that night, I noticed the tattoo on her arm and I followed the promptings which was probably from the Holy Spirit. When we are “on” and paying attention, we can often uncover a door into somebodies mind and hearts. This time, that door was her tattoo. You’d be surprised how everything is already right in front of us, if only we would just stop looking at ourselves and start looking at others.
Be salt and light. Be on. Leave a trail of blessing behind you wherever you go for God to use.