“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
It is one of the realities of life, if you want the lights to stay on you have to pay the bill. If you want the phone service, if you want gas or oil to heat the house, you know the routine. It’s a contract: I do this, you do that, but if I break the contract, I don’t do this then you don’t do that. I don’t pay the bill I don’t get what I want.
It’s really easy to take this contract mentality into our relationship with God and how we consider knowing God, actually, every other religion except Christianity does.
Take Karma for example. The basic concept is that you build up good karma by doing good and bad karma for harmful things. The point is to build up enough Karma to achieve enlightenment and reach that concept of God. But because no one can do this in a single lifetime you have reincarnation so you can build up karma from previous lifetimes. But even then you can never actually make it work but you end up in an endless cycle of failure never paying the debt on the contract with God.
If we think of knowing God in terms of contract, then the Biblical terms are simple: “Be holy as the Lord your God is holy.” That’s the check you have to write and the payment you have to make. But we know instinctively that that check has too many zero’s at the end of it, the contract has already been broken and we can’t pay the bill, so we are separated from God eternally.
But our God desiring that not one person perish eternally but have eternal life with God did the only thing that could be done, God paid the bill himself, written in the precious blood of Jesus Christ, paid in full upon the cross. With that done for the sake of Jesus, God does not want us to reckon our relationship with Him in terms of a contract anymore but in terms of a covenant.
Covenants are a completely different way of relating to God because it does not depend upon both parties fulfilling their roles but solely upon the promises of God done for you and me.
In Jesus, God has already paid the bill for the whole world, earned forgiveness of the debt for the whole world, opened up the eternal doors for the whole world. This is God’s covenant with us and the benefits of this covenant are received in faith through the one who made it possible, Jesus Christ. In this faith God has already given you all of these things based on His promises not on our ability.
Now if you want to relate to God apart from this covenant faith in Jesus, you can, but then you’re dealing with God in terms of a contract and I can tell you our check will never be in the mail to pay that one.
You would think that if God has already given you eternity with Him in faith then the moment faith enters the heart and the waters of Holy Baptism touches the skin He would just zap us into heaven. But he doesn’t because God has heavenly work for His people to do on Earth.
Since humanity decided to try and live apart from God the world has been going to hell in a hand basket. I don’t say that flippantly, this world is hellbent. The depth of pain, heartbreak and loss in our own lives is so real let alone the pain of an entire broken world. If it were not for God’s providential hand holding back the worst that sinful man and hell desires not one of us would be able to stand. But God also makes us participants in this providential work by having us bring hope, light and healing to this world.
In our covenant relationship with God you are:
- Blessed and a blessing.
- Blessed and the salt of the earth.
- Blessed and a city shining on the hill.
This is isn’t a contract where God is waiting for you to be a blessing so He can bless you, He has already blessed you and made you a blessing to others.
You have already been blessed with all of eternity and you are a blessing sharing God’s eternal gifts with others.
You have already been blessed with the love of Jesus and you are the salt of the earth seasoning others with the love of Jesus, preserving the innocent and helpless from harm and cleansing the hurt of both body and soul.
You have already been blessed with the light of Christ and you are a City on the Hill that lights the way home for others lost in the darkness.
God has already made you this in Jesus, to do good works in this life so to ease the suffering of the many. This is God’s covenant arrangement with us in faith. This is the sacred burden God has placed upon our shoulders as Christians, you are blessed and a blessing. There is not a third option.
Now, God is still faithful to His promises even if we are not.
People may say of Christian that:
- The lighthouse on the hill that once illuminated and protected this city has gone dark.
- The Christian soldiers have laid down their spiritual weapons and will not defend those in need.
- Those that have fed the poor in the name of Christ have taken the food for themselves.
- Those whose job it is to preserve others from danger of both body and soul have walked away from their sacred trust.
Let these things not be said of us. But this struggle against evil, some days we are faithful to our sacred trust and some days we are faithless, but God is always faithful and He makes us new every morning to renew our vigor for this fight.
In Jesus, you are called, needed and named for this fight so:
- Those who are perishing may not have to perish.
- Those who are suffering don’t have to suffer alone.
- Those who are down can be lifted up in prayers.
- Those who are separated from the love of God may know His love.
That many may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven. Notice how important it is that the Bible does not say that they will notice us but our good works. Because what good would it do for them our us if they gave us the glory? We cannot pay the debt of sin, we cannot cancel their debt, we cannot even save ourselves. No, they must see the good works and know that they are from God, through us, to them. So they can know they are meant for them from God and know God in faith. Then we can together glorify our God in heaven for all that He has done for us.