Salt, Light, and a City on a Hill

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by Pastor David Kim

At a certain point of his ministry, Jesus found himself speaking to his disciples at the top of a mountain in Galilee. There he began to teach and we are familiar with those teachings, of which in total we call the sermon on the mount. In fact, many popular “Christian” phrases come from there. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, Our Father in Heaven, Turn your cheek, Love your enemy, Treasures in Heaven, etc.

Amongest all of the phrases found within the sermon on the mount, there are a few that I found particularly interesting as of late. As he speaks, Jesus calls his disciples two things. One of the titles he gives the disciples is that of being “the salt of the earth.” Yet, after calling them the salt of the earth, Jesus would continue by asking a question; if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? To which he then says; It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out.

Immediately after that, Jesus gives them another title. He calls them the light of the world. He tells them that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. People don’t light up a lamp just for the sake of hiding it under a basket. Lights are meant to shine.

Now I wonder why after he calls them the salt of the earth and the light of the world, both positive and good things to identity with, Jesus quickly moves towards mentioning situations in which those identities can become quickly useless. My guess is that Jesus wanted to remind these ordinary disciples that they were chosen to be something special. They were something special so as to live with a purpose. To be salt which tastes like salt. To be light which shines light. But if they don’t fulfill their purposes, then they are useless. They serve no reason for existing except to be trampled on.

Now this may sound harsh but I think Jesus is trying to make an exhortation to the disciples. He is trying to encourage them to be different in light of what was around them.

You see, all around them was Israel. The chosen people of God. The people who were supposed to know God, follow God, represent God, bless others, and be a vessel by which others would come to know God. Yet, for the most part, Israel had failed in all of this. From the outside they looked fine, maybe even great. They looked like Israelites. They gathered like Israelites. They celebrated like Israelites. They worshiped like Israelites. But it was all just a cover for their uselessness, because they became a form without a function. They were salt that weren’t salty. Light which didn’t shine.

And Jesus is now calling the disciples to walk a different path. To have form with a function. He is reminding them that they are the salt of the earth, so they ought to taste like salt. He is reminding them that they are the light of the world, so they ought shine like lights.

And this is the same thing that we are trying to strive for at City on a Hill, our new Young Adult/Post Graduate Ministry here at Evergreen SGV. Our aim is not to just have another ministry for the sake of having another ministry. Our aim is not to just participate in more forms of Christian activities. Our aim is not to just have a form without a function. No, our aim is to know God, follow God, represent God, bless others, and be a vessel by which people might see our good works and give glory to God. Our aim is to be salty salt and shining lights. Our aim is to be a City on a Hill.

We want to be a community where we would be able to gather to support one another in pursuing this. We hope to be community radically shaped by the love of Christ and conformed to His desires for the glory of God. And today our mission is to propel one another to reflect Christ in our hearts' meditations, life decisions, and daily interactions.

So if you are looking for a place to pursue these things, we want to invite you, not just to check out this ministry, but to come and be part of this ministry, especially as we gather with a purpose, one of which is to be a City on a Hill.