Salt and light are important ingredients to our everyday living. A little salt makes a big change in the way food tastes and a little light transforms a dark room. These ordinary everyday things are very powerful change agents.
When Jesus called his followers to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) he was affirming a familiar theme in scripture. God’s first command to the first human beings on earth was “to work it and take care of it.”(Genesis 2:15). Then, even after the fall of humanity when most have rejected God, he reiterated the call to Noah (Genesis 9:1-3). Then when the people of Israel are in exile in Babylon he calls them to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Similarly, in the New Testament Peter encourages Christians to see how they can impact those who don’t believe by the way they live their lives (1 Peter 2:12).
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Over the past 50 to 60 years the church in Australia has certainly faced many challenges, and those challenges still persist today. We face growing scrutiny and increasing critique from many directions, even as our churches experience declining attendance and aging facilities. Often we are left bewildered and lost as to how we should live in this changing and challenging environment.
Writing to the church in Thessalonica, Paul speaks encouragement from reports he had heard about them. He writes of “how [they] turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
Paul praises them for two things: for no longer worshiping idols but only the Creator God; and for waiting for Jesus to rescue them from God’s impending judgement. I wonder if the example of the Thessalonians could be helpful for us in working out how we should live.
We don’t talk about idols much today, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
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What is it that you treasure most about life? What do you savour, what do you dream about, and what do you plan for?
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The things we treasure tell us a lot about ourselves.
It’s not that it’s wrong to treasure things, but the challenge Jesus presents is to treasure things that are good and profitable for us. He advised his disciples not to “store up treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
While the word treasure conjures up images of gold chests and pearls, the context reveals that Jesus is simply saying that a “treasure” is anything to which we give affection and value.
Jesus divides treasure into two categories: earthly treasure and heavenly treasure. Material treasures are fleeting, because they can be moth eaten or corroded and will eventually pass away; while heavenly treasures endure, lasting forever (Matthew 6:19). In other words there are two ways to live . . .
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