“that they might see your good works and glorify your Father who is in the heavens.” Matthew 5:16
In these next verses, Jesus starts to illustrate his message using metaphors. First he declares that his disciples are the salt of the earth, and then the light of the world. While scholars debate the exact significance of what salt means here, we can see that the images are meant to go together by their similar sentence structure. They work together to build to a common theme: Christians are supposed to be noticeable, visible, people who stand out as strongly as salt in a dish or light in darkness.
Notice, though, that Jesus doesn’t want his followers to be visible for their own sake, so that they would get applause or awards or appreciation. Jesus wants his people’s goodness to be visible so that others could see and give glory to God, the Heavenly Father. He knows that our fullest lives are found when we see God for who he is, and when our hearts give him glory. It not only honors him when we do so, but our wounds begin to heal and we begin, even if ever so slowly, to change.
Jesus wants to work his power in you so that you are more able to say yes to what he loves, and no to what he hates, and he wants to do this so that you experience the life of relationship with him, not the death of running away from the one who loves you. But never miss that Jesus also wants so much more for you than your own betterment: he wants you to be a part of the healing of others, the restoration of others, the coming to life from death of those around you. He is always inviting us, commanding us, to be a part of all the good he is doing.
It is incredible and humbling that we are able to show others who God and is and what he is like. If we're honest, we feel the places where we contradict God's goodness, where we are more likely to communicate confusion than confidence. At the same time, the pull and promise of being a part grand plot for spreading goodness and joy is the only thing worth our lives. With Jesus, we can be called into something passionate and worthy, and because of Jesus, our failures and our victories can be leveraged to full, brilliant effect.
This is a call to examine yourself. What could it look like for you to be light on your campus? What could it look like for your connection to Jesus to produce something so visibly good that even those who don’t know him would move closer to God? These are big things to dream, worthy of your prayers and attention. Get together with others in your fellowship and pray and dream together!