Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 1 of “Fan or Follower – Shine Brightly” (LISTEN HERE).
It’s easy to forget who we are and the capabilities we have.
A story is told of an experiment done with five monkeys. (Whether this was an actual experiment is disputed, but it makes the point.) In the cage with the five monkeys is a ladder with a bunch of bananas on the top. As soon as a monkey goes up to get the bananas, ice cold water douses the whole group. One of the monkeys is removed from the cage and replaced with another monkey. The new monkey sees the bananas and begins to climb the stairs. Quickly the other four prevent him from doing so. Eventually all five of the original monkeys are replaced by ones that never got doused with water, yet they all make no attempt to get the bananas at the top of the ladder.
The fear of cold-water consequences prevented the monkeys from enjoying the bananas on top of the ladder.
Does this happen in our lives as Christians? We get “cold water” poured on us when we attempt to live or share our faith? Maybe we easily give up? We read reports of people calling conservative Christians enemies of our country? We see social media comments that disparage anyone who would believe the Bible is true and accurate? We live through college classes that seem to go out of their way to point out some believed fallacy with our Christian faith.
We stop being who God has made us to be. We stop trying to enjoy and share the blessings of the Christian faith.
But we can’t. We can’t let the pressure of the society lead us to believe that who we are and what we have to share with the world are bad, wrong, or a threat to people.
Just the opposite. Team Shiner must engage in the conflict and do all they can to be victorious. Why?
Let’s start with Jesus’ words: (Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth…”
Salt is a preservative, a seasoning and a purifier.
Jesus calls us to be all three. Sure the world around us wants us to “lose our saltiness” and to make us feel worthless and “trample” over us. The temptation is not to be the salt Jesus has called us to be.
But like the bananas were actually beneficial for the monkeys and monkeys naturally like bananas, so we cannot let the world around us convince us that what we have in Christ and who we are in Christ are a bad thing. Remember these three things:
First, as salt, we share an eternal preservative.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
The message about sins forgiven through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus have power to change our eternal destiny. The Gospel, this good news, is just that! It is for all people and we have it in abundance. Nothing else in the world preserves our soul for eternity…nothing – not fame, not fortune, not family, not friends…the only thing that will is the salt of the Gospel changing the hearts of people.
Second, as salt, we share One who brings fullness to life.
John 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
So many aspects of life are sucking the joy out of life. The news creates fear in our hearts. The future brings worry and anxiety. Entertainment, careers, wealth, and more all have an appeal to “give us the life we always dreamed of.” Instead they bring fantasies that aren’t real, careers that are unfulfilling or finally end, wealth that loses its value and the end result is we find the fullness and joy and richness to life are lost in what the world has to offer. Thus, the salt of the Gospel, seasons every aspect with fullness and joy. And we have it to share!
And third, as salt, we share purity and truth to the world.
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So much of our world is filled with lies, hoaxes, false reports, and unfounded reporting. We struggle to know what and who to believe. If it’s news, the latest medical treatment, or a video on Tik Tok, we meet them all and more with a healthy sense of skepticism. Rightly so. News can be made up or altered. Medical treatments can be promoted for financial gain instead of healing. Videos can be altered to give a different perception of reality.
We crave truth. We yearn for something we can believe and live with 100% certainty. Jesus gives it. His words are truth…always.
Don’t let the others in your world pull you down and discourage you from being the Christian God has made you to be. Embrace that God has called you to play on Team Shiner and let the salt of the Gospel preserve, season and bring purity to your heart and through you to the people around you.
Apply: What aspect of salt intrigues you to work with the Lord’s help to develop more fully? Preserving, seasoning, or purifying?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making me the salt of the earth. Forgive me when I fail to be who you made me to be. Grant me your Holy Spirit to empower, direct and use me to bring the salt of the Gospel to preserve, season and purify the whole earth. AMEN.