Take politics. Families like the Clintons and the Bushes have officially etched their names in the history of American politics. Right alongside the earlier versions of the Adams and the Harrisons.
But famous families aren’t relegated to the realm of politics:
The Wright Brothers were known for their incredible invention of the airplane.
The Jackson 5 helped to shape the music scene.
The Baldwins are known for B-level comedy.
What is your family known for?
Think about that for a bit. What is your family known for?
Causing a ruckus at the Olive Garden?
Taking awkward family photos and posting them online?
Always being late for everything?
Is it possible that what you’re known for isn’t exactly what you want to be known for? If so…maybe you need to reexamine your family’s purpose.
Today we’re looking at God’s Word and he’s going to give you and your family – all of us as a Christian family – a Greater Purpose. Before we look at God’s Word, let’s say a prayer:
Strengthen us O Lord by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear. Open our hearts to believe what you want us to believe. Amen.
I. The Purpose of Salt
God teaches us about the purpose of his family in the great Sermon on the Mount. That’s in Matthew 5. This sermon is all about how God’s children who are a part of his family act. I want to focus in on verse 14. It says this, “You are the salt of the earth."
Check that out again. God calls his family “Salt.” Salt is an important part of the cooking experience. Salt makes a risotto taste perfecto. Salt helps Southern cooking taste just right. Salt is a dad’s secret ingredient. Salt even makes lima beans tolerable.
Salt is important because it keeps things from tasting bland. It was the same back then at Jesus’ time as it is now. People didn’t like bland food. Salt makes it taste different.
That’s what God’s family does. God’s family makes this world different.
If it wasn’t for people who loved God, this world would get pretty bland. If you turn on the TV, it already is. Murder after murder after murder. Crime after crime after crime. Hatred after hatred after hatred. Sin after sin after sin after sin after sin after sin after sin.
It’s like our world is stuck on a permanent set of reruns – the same sins over and over and over again.
But Christians are to be different. You are to be different.
Because that’s how God made you – different? Not innately. You were a sinner, too. You were apart from God and against God just like everyone else in this world. But Jesus lived perfectly when you could not. He died innocently in your place. He rose triumphantly for the forgiveness of all of your sins. Then, he worked through his Word – through a friend, a family member, a church goer – whoever to bring you to faith. In Baptism he sealed you as a member of his family. He called you his own!
Now he says Live differently. Live the #SaltLife. That’s your purpose. To be different.
Why would you want to be bland? Why would you want to be just like every other family?
A family motivated by getting the latest iPhone and the coolest new car? Dull.
A family filled with filthy language? Boring. Heard it before.
A family Friday movie night watching the same old violent, sexual R rated movies? Seen it so many times, I’d rather sleep.
A family rushing from here to there to do extracurricular after extracurricular but skipping church because that’s more important than God? That’s so generic!
And look at Jesus’ warning. If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? That’s a real warning. If you spend too much time in the things of this world, you start to lose your saltiness. You no longer have the same flavor you did before. You start to resemble an everyday, ordinary, of this world unbeliever, and then…well... The salt is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
God’s made you for so much more than to be trampled on.
God trampled on Satan that you might trample on him, too.
You are forgiven. Live the Salt Life.
Be the family that reserves Sunday mornings for worship.
Be the family that ends the night with devotion not TV.
Be the family that says prayers instead of swears.
Be the family that follows God’s Word instead of society’s whim.
Be the family that puts God and one another ahead of what society tells you that you should be.
Be salt. Be different.
II. The Purpose of Light
Salt is not the only thing that Jesus calls for us to be. Look at the next verse. 14 You are the light of the world.
Do you know what’s kind of annoying? At our house there isn’t a light switch when you enter the apartment. In order to turn on the light you have to walk into the dining area right in front of the door and pull the little hangy thing that is hanging from the ceiling fan. What’s annoying is that sometimes when you pull it – nothing happens.
That’s because across the way beside the kitchen is a light switch that controls the electricity to that fan. If that light switch is off, the fan doesn’t turn on. So you head over to the light switch, stumble in the dark, trip over a dog bone, and flip the switch – ONLY THE LIGHT DOESN’T TURN ON! Because you just turned it off when you pulled the string!
Light is important. We need it to see, to move, to work, to eat, to live! When you are expecting light and you don’t have it, it’s really disappointing.
Jesus say, You are the light of the world. You have been enlightened. Again -- this isn’t innate! You were born into the darkness of sin like everyone else. But God worked through his Word. He worked through Sunday school lessons and Bible stories. He worked through sermons and Bible readings. He worked through conversations with your family and friends to light up your eyes and help you to see the True God --Jesus Christ – and the True Way to Heaven – Jesus again!
Now. God says it’s your turn. It’s your turn to light the way. It’s your turn to help others see.
Jesus says, A city on a hill cannot be hidden. If it’s up on a mountain side, you see it. You can’t ignore it. It’s like going to downtown Raleigh. You will see the Wells Fargo Tower. It’s big enough. It can’t be missed. And that’s the way it should be when we live our lives! It should be obvious in our families and to our families that we love our Savior Jesus Christ!
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and its gives light to everyone in the house!
That doesn’t make much sense does it?
Who of you would go to JC Penney, Sears, and Home Goods, find the perfect lamp, go to Lowe’s for the right brand of LED light bulb, get home, open up the box, read the instructions, put the lamp together, try it out in 5 different spots until it fits the feng shui of the room, then grab a big old tarp and drape it over the lamp?
If you are hiding the fact that you are a Christian, that’s exactly what you are doing. Whether it’s on purpose or self-consciously – you are throwing a big old tarp over the very light that God put into your life – the very light that can guide others to the Light – Jesus Christ!
Don’t do that. Let your light shine.
That’s exactly how Jesus ends this section. He says, 16 In the same way – the same way as the lamp that’s put on a lampstand to do its job – let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
That’s a key point. Because we aren’t living lives of light for our own sake. We aren’t doing it so that we can people will say, “My aren’t they are a grand Christian family!” If that’s the motivation, then we’re still in darkness.
Instead, we live lives of love. We point others to Jesus. We post things about Jesus online. We talk about him at our table. We go to church. We say prayers in restaurants. We put fish on the back of our minivans – so that others might learn about our Savior and have the same comfort in the forgiveness of sins that we have.
III. WHAT NOW?
- Adopt a Motto.
Why not make this section of God’s Word a motto for your family? Even if you are single – why not make this your motto? “Be light.” “Be salt.’ “Let your light shine.” You could post it on the fridge. Write it in your Google calendar. Talk about it at family dinners. Pray about it with your kids before you go to bed. Ask that question, “How was I a light for God today? How can I be a light for God tomorrow?”
The more this is on your hearts and minds – the more it will be a part of your day to day life.
2. Be the Light In Your Family
Now for some of you – you might be the only light in your family. You may be the only one who knows Jesus’ love. Even if you have a family who already knows Jesus’ love – listen to this encouragement. Be the light in your family.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your Savior! Don’t start thinking, “Well, we don’t really talk about that stuff. We just keep it light. We talk about sports and our favorite America’s Got Talent Act but we don’t talk about Jesus.”
Why not? He’s not afraid to talk about you.
He tells his heavenly Father how much he loves you…
…and how he took away your sins…
…and how you are now righteous in His sight…
…and how you are the jewel of his eye?
Don’t be afraid to talk about your Heavenly Family in your earthly family.
3.Help your Family be the Light.
We recently got a candelabra that we placed over the mantle in our apartment. Beforehand, we used to put up one candle for ambience sake. One candle doesn’t give a lot of light. But this candelabra has room for 5 candles. It’s a lot brighter!
That’s what happens when your family is united. That’s what happens when you are all burning as light for Christ. God is using you to be a regular torch in your neighborhood. A bright shining light on your block.
So what’s your family known for? Wouldn’t it be cool, if the answer was simply…Faith in Jesus?
And as we wrap up this series on Family Matters – may we ask God for forgiveness – because we haven’t always been known for Jesus. Then, let’s receive his forgiveness – because we are known by God as forgiven – and live anew. Ready to take our purpose and use our earthly family to make our heavenly family known. Amen.