Salt & Light
There was a man by the name of Anthony, who was later remembered as Anthony the Great 251-356 A.D. He is known because he purposely withdrew from society and isolated himself in the deserts of Arabia. The objective of this retreat was to find a oneness with God. During his 20 years of isolation he did not speak a single word to anyone, ate plain food and drank only water. Upon the expiration of the time he ventured back into society only to return to his cave of isolation for the remainder of his life.
Does this picture accurately portray the life that we as Christians are called to live? Of course not! Now, while we may not follow his example in practice, we can very easily follow it in principle. It is so easy to only connect with those that we feel comfortable with or those who are within our own bubble. In our fear of the world, sometimes we avoid it so much that we even avoid those that need to be saved from the world.
Jesus uses two symbols that embody the Christian’s life. He says that we are SALT and LIGHT. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:13-14. Jesus says that you are the salt and light of the world, He doesn’t say that you might be or that you can choose to be. He says that you either are or you aren’t. We are called to live for the world, not the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17), but for the world in the sense that there should be a life-giving quality about us. The world is made up of people, people for whom Christ has died (1 Tim 2:6). Simply put, the Christian lives for the world because Jesus died for the world.
A Ministry Sandwich
If Jesus is our example, shouldn’t we live as He lived and minister as He ministered? God doesn’t tell us to do a particular thing and then not show us how to do it. He gives us an example to mirror and this example is in the life of Jesus:
This here is what I call Jesus’ ‘ministry sandwich.’
- He TAUGHT in the synagogue or meeting place (we would call this the church),
- He PREACHED the Gospel of the Kingdom and
- He HEALED the people in Galilee (which was His community).
The bread of this ministry sandwich is in the teaching and healing acts of Jesus, but the substance of the sandwich is the Gospel. In other words, the teaching and healing are only what they are because of the POWER of the GOSPEL. Otherwise it is fruitless. Now “preaching” is much more than someone standing behind a pulpit and giving an exposition on Scripture. Preaching isn’t just in the spoken word, it’s also in the lived-out word. The Gospel was preached when Jesus taught just as much as when He healed. And the Gospel too is preached just as much as when we heal as when we teach.
This means that every Christian is a preacher of the Gospel because every Christian is an ambassador of the Kingdom. As a church we want to give our community the whole ‘sandwich,’ not half of it. Nobody buys a sandwich only for the bread, they want the whole thing! Yet how often do we compartmentalise the activities of Jesus and never incorporate them together in a well-rounded ministry? In other words, you can teach but if you don’t meet the felt needs of those around you then you’ve only preached half a Gospel. Or alternatively, you can meet the felt needs of those around you but if you don’t teach them of Jesus then you’ve only preached half a Gospel. We want to give them the whole sandwich, not half of it.
Now I love pizza. Pizza is the best. The best pizza that I have ever made was one that I made on a “man camp” with some of my mates several years ago. For those that may be unfamiliar with what a man camp entails, it is simply a camp where men do manly things, like having tea towel fights, pitching a tent, and cooking our own meals. However, at this man camp we made pizzas and this pizza that I made essentially ruined pizza forever for me. The reason for that is, I made the all-time greatest pizza which is now the measuring stick by which I measure all pizzas. Want to start salivating? Then let me tell you how it was done! STEP 1: Build a fire and get some hot coals happening. STEP 2: Place your toppings on your pizza base (pesto, broccolini, pumpkin, roasted peppers, roasted eggplant, pine nuts, sundried tomatoes, olives, feta, and a sprinkling of mozzarella). STEP 3: Fold the pizza in half, wrap it in aluminium foil and place it on the hot coals. STEP 4: Rotate pizza till cooked. STEP 5: (My favourite step) EAT! Now I get it, it’s more of a calzone than a pizza, but it’s just sooo good! Now, Rosie and I went to Italy in 2017 and I was excited about the pizza possibilities. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Margarita pizzas only have 3 ingredients! Don’t get me wrong, the pizzas tasted good but certainly not as good as they could.
The Whole Sandwich
Follow my thought here church.If we only teach, we only preach half a Gospel. If we only heal, we only preach half a Gospel. It may taste good, but not as good as it could. Something is missing. Nobody wants half a sandwich, let alone half a pizza.
There is a complete picture of ministry that Jesus gives us and that is to teach and to heal. The substance that gives power and efficiency to this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel we are all called to preach because we are all called to live kingdom lives. So, I say enough to “half-sandwich” ministry! Let us minister to the whole person! Let us live the Gospel not only in our words but also in our actions. They are both inseparable and paramount to the success of the church.
Remember that you ARE the salt of the earth and the light of the world. No ifs, buts or maybes. You are to live for the world unequivocally and unashamedly. Jesus died for the world, so let us get living for it! You may not feel like you are His salt or light, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t. In fact, such a feeling of your own extremity gives God an opportunity to do what only He can. You are a preacher of the Gospel. Period.
“Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. No sooner does he come to know the Saviour than he desires to make others acquainted with Him. The saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life. In doing this work a greater blessing is received than if we work merely to benefit ourselves. It is in working to spread the good news of salvation that we are brought near to the Saviour.” Ministry of Healing pg 102-103.