When Jesus flipped the conversation in Matthew 5:13-16 from, “You are the salt, your are the light,” to, “I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it” in Matthew 5:17-20, He was not changing the subject. The subject was our presence in this world as salt and light. The subject was the Law of God in word and deed as that which gives light and life to the world.
Salt interrupts spoilage. It is sprinkled about the place to keep the corruption at bay. It was also sprinkled over the temple sacrifices and offered up to God as a pleasing aroma (Leviticus 2:13).
This means that the salt has something to do with our speech.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)
Being salty means applying the word to the world around us. Such speech adds flavour, gives it punch, and keeps us from just sounding blah.
Thou shalt not be Blah
The answer to a hard heart is not a plate of aeroplane jelly. Christians are not called to point the finger, but neither are they called to an endless round of the touchy-feelies. All that such Christian cultures achieve is an inability to stand strong in the day of trial.
To the bankrupt woman caught in adultery (John 8:11), instead of the tasteless, “Oh, well, we all make mistakes…” we have, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
And to the son backing out of the driveway on a Friday night, instead of, “Be careful, have fun,” we have,
My son, be attentive to my wisdom and incline your ear to understanding. For the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey, but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood… her feet go down to death… do not eat her delicacies. (Proverbs 5:1-6)
Let your words be salty… and let your light shine, said Jesus.
Light exposes things hidden in the darkness, but it does it in a particular way. Jesus tells us to let our light shine so that others will see our good works and glorify God, our Father in Heaven.
Light has to do with good deeds and those good deeds are our obedience to the Law and the Prophets.
The deeds themselves bring to light God’s goodness and that in turn reveals the futility and evil of the deeds of sinful man.
But note the emphasis. The intent is not to reveal something bad, but to reveal something good.
Think of it this way. Living next door to the guy with the bigger barn (Luke 12:16-20), we have an old lady who runs a soup kitchen. Across the street from the abortion clinic is not a mob of placard-carrying noise makers, but a Christian Mum and Bub Club.
We get salty in our conversation and well-lit in our deeds by drawing attention to the truth, beauty, and mercy of God in a dark and deceitful culture. The world is not transformed by yelling at the darkness or joining the world in its murky, lukewarm, blah.
The world is transformed by salty speech and kingdom-building soup kitchens. If you’re going to say something, say something that hits the mark. If you’re going to do something, do something that brings Christ into focus.