What are “salt and light” lives? The passage of Scripture we focus on in considering this matter is Matthew 5:13-16. Here the Scripture reads:-
‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
How are we to understand what it is to be salt and light. This passage occurs in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount sets out the manifesto of the Kingdom of Heaven. It indicates how we are to live a distinct life as part of that kingdom and not the kingdom of this world. The godly life is the distinct life. The Beatitudes show what are to be the character qualities of a distinct life; such godly life. Such a distinct life will lead to persecution because the world does not want anyone to live differently (see vv. 11-12).
This leads us into the salt and light passage. Salt and light are only effective because of their distinctiveness. So salt must not lose its saltiness and light must not be swamped by darkness. We are only effective as Christians when we are distinct from the kingdom of this world. Implicitly we need the continued enabling of the Lord to retain salty and luminous qualities. Looking on, people will realise that we are different. They will realise we are not just following the ways and standards of this world. Accordingly, they will acknowledge that it is only God that could do this.
Being salt and light then is not about seeing change in our communities so that sin is hindered from spreading and more godliness shines. Rather it is about setting ourselves to please God and to know His enabling to live effectively for His glory. This will lead us to living distinct lives in our communities. Such distinction could very likely lead to us being hated by our communities. However we trust there is a blessing even in that, because we are living to please the Lord.