The Your Stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…
When I was about 13, I was saying goodbye to my grandparents after a visit, and my grandpa gave me a big hug, and said in my ear,
“I’m real proud of you and I’m lucky to have you as my granddaughter.”
That memory brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it, because my grandpa – someone that I truly love and respect – said those words and bestowed value on me. It really shaped the way I viewed myself, then as an awkward 13 year old, and still to this day.
While my grandpa’s words obviously mattered a lot to me, God’s words should matter the most, but they are often not the loudest words I hear or believe about myself. The world tells me I’m not skinny enough, too ambitious, not ambitious enough, not adventurous enough. Don’t even get me started on what Facebook does to my value and identity! I’m not crafty enough, not organic enough, not photogenic enough, not spiritual enough. ENOUGH! It’s exhausting. But that’s not what God says about me. When I believe and trust in the work of Jesus, I have unity with Him. I am in Christ. And it gives me an identity greater and more solid than anything our society spews at me.
In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
These words have been great encouragement to me. Jesus tells us that we are salt and light – that we are designed and equipped to influence this world. And you don’t have to have a certain personality type to do this. This isn’t reserved for the “outgoing” people. Salt and light is part of the very identity and DNA that Jesus gives us the moment we believe in Him.
The two words at the beginning of the passage are so important – “you are.” Jesus doesn’t say “If you could try to be salty, that would be greaaaaattt.” He doesn’t say “I like salty people the best and that’s who gets into heaven.” He doesn’t say, “out of 10, you’re about a 3 on the light scale, so step it up a notch”. He says you are salt and light. The reason Jesus can say “you are” so confidently is because this is our given and proclaimed identity, not our earned identity. It was earned by Jesus.
Jesus is the ultimate light. He says “I am the light of the world” multiple times in the Bible. He is perfectly and completely the light for all of eternity. And we have the privilege of getting to reflect the light of Jesus. In this life, we will never do this perfectly, so you can just get rid of the weight of that self-expectation right now. Some days, we might just be a sliver of light. I know some days, the light-y-est I can be is by putting myself in time-out so I don’t say something unkind and start a pointless argument with my husband. That’s ok. One degree of change is still change, and worth celebrating. And the light of Jesus is always super bright. We can’t make the light of Jesus less or more bright, but we have the opportunity, and I would say joyful duty, to reflect Jesus’ light in the world. Jesus has done the work. It is finished. We just get to hold up a mirror to it.
I have a few friends who have really been salt in my life. My dad passed away three years ago from cancer, and it was a really hard time. There were many days when the stress and grief seemed too much to bear and they would sit with me during lunch out at a picnic table while I just cried and let it out. They didn’t try to cheer me up, they didn’t tell me their own “I know someone with cancer” story, they just sat with me and penetrated my heart with an honest friendship, and let me cry so I could face the rest of the work day. Being salt might not always feel like a big deal to you, but it can be a huge deal to the person receiving it.
At the end of the day this being salt and light is all about God’s work through you. It’s about God when we do great at being salt and light. It’s about God when we totally don’t. Verse 16 says “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” There’s a reason this doesn’t end with “so that they may see your good works.” That would make us arrogant jerk-faces who are super proud of all the good deeds we do. No thanks. Our good works are made for reflecting THE GOOD WORK of Jesus. Our lives are like a compass to help people find and see Jesus. “Oh you thought that was nice, wait until you see how nice Jesus was.” “Oh, you’re surprised I just forgave you, guess who is full of forgiveness?”
I love that salt and light are just these normal things that we take for granted but when we look at them closer, they do a bunch of awesome stuff. We get to have that effect on the world. We get to be a normal presence who people rarely notice doing anything extraordinary. And when they do notice, it’s Jesus who gets glorified and not us. There is no pressure, no obligation, not another to-do, no guilt – there is freedom to act like salt and light because we can’t lose. When we do it, God is glorified. When we don’t do it, we have grace because Jesus did it perfectly. There is freedom from the damaging lies that the world tells us about ourselves because we have permanent identity in Christ. Jesus gave you an identity that improves the earth just by you being on it – don’t let anything tell you otherwise.
Where in your life are you believing what the world says instead of what Jesus says about you? Who in your life has been salt or light when you needed it? How can your life be a mirror to the salt and light of Jesus?