A commission usually refers to a group of people officially authorized by some higher power to perform certain duties and functions on their behalf. Like the US Commission on Civil Rights, or the US Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Federal Trade Commission–these organizations are given federal authority to carry out various functions on behalf of the United States government. With that authority comes power. If you are working for one of these commissions and a state senator calls you up and asks you to stay out of his affairs, you can say, excuse me, you may have the state to back you up, but I have the United States by my side so step aside little boy.
Using that same idea, the Great Commission in Matthew 28 begins with the phrase, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. By dying on the cross and being raised from the dead, at that moment when Jesus was resurrected, all authority in heaven and on earth was given to him. All authority. We’re not talking about a mayor who has authority over a town, or a governor having authority over a state, or the president of the United States. We are talking about all authority in heaven, meaning over all the angels and cherabim and seraphim and the rest of the heavenly hosts as well as all authority on earth. All the earth, over all nations of the earth. This means pretty much all authority in the entire universe. All authority everywhere has been given to Jesus. So when Jesus sends us out on a peacemaking mission to make disciples of all nations, we go out into the world with the power and authority of Jesus.
This idea of peacemaking fits nicely with v13-16.
13 “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 by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Salt of the earth, light of the world, city on a hill–these are similar in 2 ways. First, they have impact. Second, if they stop having impact, if they don’t serve the purpose for which they were designed, they’re useless and thrown away.
First, they have impact. Virtually every food you eat contains salt. Look at the back of a can or a box, and you’ll see most things have some amount of sodium. Ever watch a cooking show? Doesn’t it seem like every dish is seasoned with salt? Sometimes salt and pepper, but always salt. Even sweet things, I see the chefs adding salt because it brings out the flavor of the sweetness.
Salt has impact. Even a pinch of salt, a tiny bit of salt, and the impact on the flavor of a dish is undeniable. Try cooking without salt. It will be so bland that you will want to spit out the food. A little salt goes a long way.
Same with light. Take a night light. The luminosity of the light might be small, a few watts, like a pinch of salt, but in a pitch black room, a little light goes a long way. Even the light on the end of a keychain conquers the darkness. Light, even a small light, rolls back, overcomes the darkness.
Christians, you and I are called to be salt and light of the world. There is no deep theological meaning for salt and light. The application is rather obvious–are you having impact? The same way that salt has impact in food and light has impact in a dark room, are we having impact? In our homes, among our friends, at our workplaces and in our neighborhoods? Would people around you even know that you are a Christian or are you like a lamp under a bowl? The waitress at the restaurant that you frequent often. Would she know that you are a Christian? Would your barber know that you are a Christian?
What about our church? We are called to be a city on a hill. Have you ever looked out at the cityscape at night? It’s a sea of glittering lights. Compare that with a place like Yosemite on a cloudy evening. It’s pitch black because very few people are living there. But in a city, people are concentrated and living in close quarters, hence the sea of lights.
A church is a city on a hill. It’s a gathering of a bunch of Christians who are little lights of the world. Jesus referred to himself as the light of the world and as little Christs, Christians gathering at a church ought to be a city of lights. Some are mini lights on the end of a keychain, some are halogen lamps, the light from your life shines a bit brighter, some are like the floodlights that light up the Staples Center.
Are you having impact? Jesus is not asking you to do something extra. Like, go out and do evangelism as if that is an extra duty for the super spiritual. Jesus is just calling salt to be salt and light to be light. Salt has impact. It adds flavor. Light has impact. It shines, it illuminates dark places. We all have to shine. Our lives have to impact those around us. I told God when I became pastor of this church, if no one is saved in the first 3 years, I’m going to close the church. Because wherever we are, we are salt and light. We have impact. Evangelism should never be relegated to a few people on a committee. Everyone, to varying degrees, is an evangelist. If you are truly salty and your love for Jesus is vibrant, you won’t be able to contain it. You don’t have to twist someone’s arm to go and make disciples of all nations. If Jesus is real and active in your life, salt will be salt, light will be light. Your life will have impact.
How do you have impact?
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
You have to let your light shine through your good deeds. Through your words, through your actions, through your conduct, by how you carry yourself, through your good deeds, may your light shine before men.
When everyone around you is stressed about the upcoming midterm or stressed because of a deadline at work, for the Christian, there is a peace about you, a grace under pressure. You are not worried and anxious like those who don’t know Jesus. Because your life is not defined by a grade on a test, or an admission to a school, or a job title. You try your best, you work hard, but you are not consumed by things that others are consumed about. Because your performance, your success, a title on a business card, even your failure –these things don’t define your worth and so you can be at peace.
Your worth comes from being a child of God. So if good things happen in your life, you can give thanksgiving and praise to God. Your salvation, your life, the breath in your lungs, your brain, your abilities, the opportunities that you have been given are all the grace of God, undeserving gifts that He has lavished on you and me. So we can give thanks to God. When bad things happen, we can still give thanks to God because it’s not the end of the world. God loves us, our eternity is secure, nothing in life can happen to make us lose hope or throw in the towel.
Whether in the midst of a storm or tranquil waters, we can have impact by how we shine the light of Jesus through our good deeds, through our response to whatever life throws at us.
How else can we have impact? By speaking. Telling others about Jesus. Again, Jesus is not twisting your arm. He is not giving an extra task for those who are more zealous than the rest. He is just telling salt, be salt. Light, be light. Do your thing. Have impact. Share about what I’ve done in your life. That’s what Jesus is saying.
We do this all the time when it comes to other things. What do you do when you find a good restaurant? You tell others about it. If you ate the best calamari dish in your life, no one is forcing you to tell others. No one is twisting your arm. You want to tell others. You take your friends to the restaurant and you watch the joy on their faces as they take their first bite. And you guys are happy together because they know firsthand the joy you had talked about. Now it’s a common joy. Good things, you naturally share with others. What do you do when you watch a good movie? Like Avengers, which, I fell asleep in, but I hear it was a great movie. What do you do after you watch it? You tell others. It’s so natural to share with others when it comes to good things, even trivial things.
Examine your conversations with people. When is the last time you shared about Christ? Christ, the gospel, which is good news, not just for you, but for the whole world. If Christ is the most important person in your life, wouldn’t you tell others? Don’t think of it as ministry or evangelism. Think of it as salt being salt and light being light. Impact, influence, shine.