Salt and Light

My latest column for The Southern Cross…

I was hard at work on dinner one recent afternoon, and quite pleased with myself in the process. Dinner, specifically the act of offering it on a regular basis, tends to be a challenge for me. You want dinner? Again?

Of course dinner is part of the deal, I get that. The caring for and feeding of children does indeed involve food. Which brings me to my latest motto — Dinner: it comes with the territory.

This school year, since I’ve started working outside the home, I knew having a weekly meal plan would be our only sanity. I came up with a two-week master plan that we’ve been rotating through, to great success. So another great motto — Dinner: It’s on the Table!

Except this recent weekday evening, after finding myself at the stove (again) and cooking (again) and really enjoying the newfound success of tackling the menu/cooking problem, well I went to add one wee dash of salt when the entire salt grinder came apart and a million pink salt crystals tumbled into dish below.

I stood and stared in disbelief — a whole pot of chili instantly ruined. That was my first thought. I shrieked and scooped and when I tasted the concoction a few minutes later I confirmed that yes, this would be worst pot of chili known to man.

The salt was in there and in the few seconds it took me to grab a spoon, the overwhelming flavor had permeated everything.

I kept thinking about how in scripture, salt getting in the mix is a good thing. I tried to let that thought soothe me (it didn’t). But while my chili might be ruined, I had an undeniable example of how salt works. Salt was being salt and its presence was unmistakable.

Salt and light. That’s what we’re called to be. We as Christians are tasked by Jesus to bring His light to the world. And when we’re being who we are called to be, there can be no mistake we are there.

“You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, adding “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.”

Salt and light. Love and truth.

The older I get the less I think this call is about preaching with words and more about being the hands and feet of Jesus. Being salt and light means being ourselves, operating out of our love for Jesus in all we say and do — and then letting God do the rest. It’s not about having an agenda, who we think needs to be saved. It’s about asking Jesus to show us who to love, and to love whoever He puts in our path.

This commission is beautiful because it’s available to us all. Being a missionary isn’t just about traveling to the other side of the world. It’s about being love and light right here, in this moment. It’s rocking the brand new baby, and hugging the whiny toddler. It’s feeding the hungry teenager and lovingly welcoming a husband home even when you’re as tired as he is. It’s looking your grocery store cashier in the eye and listening when you ask how she’s doing. It’s paying attention and being willing to care.

In order to be light, we need to be aware of the world around us. We want to preach — but like the prayer said by Mother Teresa’s order every day, we must “preach without preaching, not by words, but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear” for Jesus.

We are salt. And when we are who we are called to be — living with a heart of love for Jesus and for his people — there will be no mistaking our presence in this world. It won’t be because we preached the right words, but because we loved the person God needed us to love.