Be Prepared Part 4:
On Sunday 25th September at our morning service, we continued our series 'Be Prepared'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
At the start of our service we watched the trailer for the Paralympics. You can watch that by clicking here.
As human beings we often see ourselves the way that the culture we grew up in tells us to see ourselves. We often let the opinions of others affect our own opinions and values and let that shape our very character and culture.
On Sunday we told the story of Paralympic athlete Daniel Dias and how his culture changed dramatically, you can listen to his story by clicking here.
The crowd listening to Jesus in Matthew 5 (a passage found in the second part of the Bible, the New Testament, which you can read by clicking here) would have been told they were useless and worth nothing. They would have been bullied just like Daniel and like us would have been left feel low and insignificant at points throughout their lives. But when we read this passage we realise something, we have the true power to be that salt, we have the power to make others’ lives taste better!
Not only does salt make things taste better, but it also preserves the life of things, it acts as a way of healing wounds, it stops decay taking place, it cleanses things and at the time of this passage it was used as fertiliser to help things grow. We have the ability to be all of those things to the people around us. We could stop the decaying in people’s lives, we could bring cleansing power, we can stop wounds from hurting and we could be the ones to help others grow!
We have the power to shine light in to the darkness of people around us; we can use our light to fight off the evil which people believe about themselves. We can use our light to stop people being afraid in darkness and instead choose to show the way for others, releasing different aspects of their lives for them amongst the darkness. However, if we are truly honest, how many of us choose to hide all of those powers under a bowl? Choose to not believe in ourselves, to not stand strong and shine because somebody once told us we were tasteless salt or a dimming light? How many of us choose to ignore that Jesus tells us to stand strong and shine?
Jesus told the people in the story (just ordinary people like you and me) that they were the ones through whom the love of God would be shared with the world. Does that feel like a taste for just the ordinary? It is not our strength that makes us extraordinary but the love of God. In the video we hear how Daniel had always believed in God, but learning to swim was his turning point. He explains how he had learnt all four strokes needed to be an athlete in just eight lessons and goes on to say “it was God’s way of telling me this was my gift and that I should use it to speak of Him”. Daniel learnt that through God he was extraordinary, that it was God who helped him to carry on despite feeling like a dimming light and tasteless salt, that no matter how ordinary he felt, God wanted to push him to be extraordinary and to use him to spread the word of His love around the world.
We need to recognise the thing that makes our salt taste salty and our lights shine brightly is God and his love. He is the one who fills us with his gifts and helps mould us to become extraordinary. We use our ordinary lives to mould the culture of those around us, this happens whether we choose to do this positively or whether by reflection we do this negatively, it is completely our decision.
When Jesus was talking to the crowd he called them to be the salt in the places which were missing the vital ingredient of God’s love and to be the light in the places of sheer darkness. Their identity was founded in God which is where they learnt to taste and to shine. Our identity needs to be founded in God, where we learn to taste and shine. This is the challenge for those of us who are Christians, we are challenged to stand strong and be the salt and the light; to route ourselves so deeply in God’s love that we shine out brightly and mould the culture around us, teaching others about Jesus by our very character.
For those of you who don’t yet know God and can’t yet be that shining light of his love to others, why not seek out someone who is that shining light? Accept that God loves you no matter what you think about yourself or what others have told you, you are. Allow him to take you from ordinary to extraordinary by simply allowing Him in to your life.
So go forward from today as culture shapers, people who decide to make the world a better place, because of the love that God has for us. Shine your light brightly and choose not to let the ordinary be the reason you hide under a bowl.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group
1. Can you resonate at all with the crowd in the story? Have you ever felt low or insignificant?
2. How did the culture you grew up in affect the way your character formed? Was that a positive formation or a negative formation?
3. Can you think of any examples where you have let the opinions of others, or your own opinion about yourself change the pathway of your life, or affect your character? How did this work out for you?
4. Can you think of any ways in your ordinary life that you could shine out the light of God?
5. What struggles do you face when trying to shine for Jesus?
6. Have you got any examples to encourage others with, where shining for Jesus has had a real impact on you or someone around you?
7. Can you choose one person going forward from today who you are going to try to be the light and salt for?