Sunday, October 03, 2010

Matthew 5:13-16 - “Salt”

Consecrated Stewards – Part One
Sunday, October 3, 2010

Give salt to person at back of church

I have consecrated, ___________, for a special task. Consecrated means “set apart for a high service.” Consecrated is a word we’re going to use a lot in these next few weeks, and I thought it’d be good to start with consecrating someone, setting someone aside for special service, so today I consecrate _________ for this task: __________, would you please pass the salt? Get person to pass salt up to front of church

God has made us to be salt of the earth, His flavor in the world, and He has called us to pass on that salt to others. I consecrated ______ to pass the salt to others. God has consecrated you, set you aside, to pass the salt to others. You are salt, that’s what Jesus says. You have His flavor

I want you to briefly do something a little different: I want you to talk to your neighbors during the sermon, I want you to briefly discuss one of the questions on the insert, it’s near the bottom of the page, where it says: “What do you think some of the God-flavors God wants us to bring out into the world?” I want to know how you would answer that question. Have people spend a few minutes discussing. Then get feedback from a few people.

While we flavor the world with God’s reminders about how to live according to His ways, the strongest flavor ought to be forgiveness, forgiveness for all sin.

Jesus is sounding a warning, a warning to the disciples and us, warning us not to go bland, not to lose that saltiness, that flavor that comes from Him.

You can hear this warning in a different way by seeing The Message paraphrase that you have on your bulletin inserts. It’s phrased a little differently to bring out the meaning more clearly to our ears:
Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Or there’s another paraphrase I like called The Word on the Street.
You guys are the world’s natural preservatives. Like salt, you bring out the flavour. But if you bland on me, what use is that? You might as well be chucked out and go join the wasters at the landfill site.

What would it mean to lose your saltiness?

If you lose your saltiness, I think that would show up most clearly if you stopped having the flavor of forgiveness, the flavor of grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

I’m not as concerned about your losing your saltiness as I am about you keeping your saltiness to yourself.

I know you know about forgiveness, you believe in His forgiveness, you trust in His forgiveness in Jesus Christ. I think you’re salty in here, in your heart.

But I am concerned that we might keep that saltiness to ourselves, might forget to go out and share that forgiveness with others, might forget to share the message of forgiveness and salvation with others.

I want you to turn to your neighbors again and discuss another question. This one isn’t on your insert. Here’s the question: How do we end up keeping the salt to ourselves? How do we as individuals or as a congregation sometimes forget to pass the salt? Have people spend a few minutes discussing. Then get feedback from a few people.

So here’s what we’re asking God to do, here’s what we need God’s help with, we need Him to talk us faulty but salty people, take us and help us to share His Word with others, help us to pass the salt.

Here’s the vision of what we’re asking God to do:
Using a saw, cut the salt package in half.

Out of the saltshaker indeed! Get that salt out there, get that salt out into the world.

We are consecrated, all of us, not just _________, we are all consecrated, set aside to pass the salt. Our prayer is that God would take us, break us open, help us to share that salt, help us to share that Word that we’ve come to love and adore. We’re asking God to help us pass the salt.

When I’m saying that you’re consecrated, that you’re set aside to pass the salt, I’m not saying that only the most perfect people here are consecrated. We’re all consecrated. Through faith in Christ, God sets us all aside. We’re all salty with His Word, we all can be His servants. We’re all faulty but salty.

Faulty but salty. We’re faulty but it’s not about passing on your perfection. It’s about passing on what God has filled you up with. You’re just a broken package. You’re passing the salt, the flavor from God, the message of forgiveness from God

For instance, take Emma, a youth in Milwaukee. Emma is faulty but salty. Emma isn’t perfect, but listen to how God used her. God helped Emma pass the salt. Now loves the Lord and loves being a part of things at her church. When Emma moved to a different high school, she got to be friends with Chaz. Now Chaz had some experiences with the church, but recently had gotten kind of turned off by the church. So Emma invited Chaz to church. With God’s help, Emma passed the salt.

After a couple of times visiting our church, Emma and Chaz came up to me after worship and were all excited. They said, “How do we get Chaz confirmed?” It’s the kind of question that unfortunately a pastor doesn’t get to hear very often. But Emma had passed the salt. She had passed on her faith and excitement about Jesus, and now Chaz wanted that same thing.

So I began teaching Chaz and her mom, Marlene. Emma came to classes, too, to support them. And it turns out that Chaz and Marlene had never been baptized. After learning about the faith, Chaz and Marlene both wanted to be baptized and join the church. What a celebration! A celebration of God working in the lives of Chaz and Marlene. A celebration of God helping Emma to pass the salt, using Emma to bring Chaz and Marlene to Him.

That’s our prayer, that He would use all of us like He used Emma.

Or take my friend, Murry, another faulty but salty Christian. And God uses Murry to pass the salt. Murry is the bass player in a touring rock band called the Old 97s. A number of years ago I preached a sermon that talked about going to an Old 97s concert. After I forwarded the sermon to the band, Murry wrote back and told me he is a Christian. Since then we’ve talked a number of times and had some great conversations about what it means to be a Christian in a regular rock ‘n’ roll band. We’ve talked about the challenges of keeping the faith in a world and culture that doesn’t really hold the same faith. We’ve talked about how he tries to pass the salt to his friends in music, being honest about his faith, encouraging people in their faith. When other people in the music business have found out about Murry’s faith, they’ve talked to him about how to keep faithful while still being in rock ‘n’ roll. God is using Murry to pass the salt, and I praise God for that. And Murry would be the first to admit that he’s faulty but salty. But God has consecrated Murry to pass the salt, set Murry aside to pass on the faith to his friends. God can use faulty people to be His salty people in the world.

See I’m not holding up Emma and Murry as these perfect examples of the faith. I’m holding them up so that you can see how God can use faulty but salty people, so that you can see how God might be using you faulty but salty people. God doesn’t want you to pass on your perfection to people; God wants you to pass on His salt, His holiness, His forgiveness, His love. You’re just the broken package with His salt to share with the people around you.

And I want you to consider how you can pass the salt this week.

I want you to consider the challenge that’s on the back of the bulletin insert, a challenge we’ll talk about more in Bible study. It’s the 1-1-1-1 challenge. For one week pray for one person at one time for one minute.

Choose someone that you know so that you can ask God to let you be salt in their life. Choose someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus or is drifting away from Him. Choose a time when you’ll remember to take a minute to pray.

Turn to your neighbors one more time and if you feel comfortable doing so, share with them the name of the person that you’re going to be praying for this week.

And when you think of the 1-1-1-1 challenge, think of the image of the salt pouring out of the container, think of how God might be pouring you out, pouring you out as His flavor into this person’s life.

And what flavor will be the strongest in you?
Can God use faulty but salty people?
Pass the salt.