Sitting on the Mountainside-Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 16: “Salt and Light” Part Three 08.22.18

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) “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. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Every Christian with the slightest interest in history knows the names of Augustine and Calvin and Luther and Wesley and others. All great servants of God who had great effects upon their world. If we look closely at those men, and the many women who served with them, we realize that the world has always been darkened by sin. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, things have not been what God intended them to be. The poet Tennyson described our world as “red in tooth and claw.” Violent and bleeding. Hence, God has always raised up servants to be salt and light in the darkness.

One such light-giver is not well-known but perhaps should be. His name was Charles Simeon and here is his story. Born to an affluent unbelieving family, Simeon enrolled at Kings College, part of Cambridge University. His mind was on horseback riding, games, fellowship of the worldly variety and putting his wine collection in order in his newly secured college apartment. He even brought along a servant to tend to his every need.On the day that he had set up his worldly abode satisfactorily, he received a notice from the Deans Office. It was a reminder that all students were expected to attend chapel on Easter Sunday in a few weeks. And to receive the Lord’s Supper. This requirement to attend chapel almost amused him. He wrote in his journal “Satan himself was as fit to attend the sacrament as I.” But something miraculous happened in the following days. Simeon searched everywhere to find books about the Lord’s Supper and receive guidance in how it was to be understood. Yet, he located very little and could not secure counsel from any true disciples!

At this time, the university was wallowing in skepticism and mockery of all things Holy. It was described as a place where “the darkness could be felt!” (see Exodus 10:21). We have considered this verse in previous articles and it remains powerful. But Simeon, in his lost state, was not perceiving the darkness only the good times ahead. Yet, by God’s Grace, He persisted and fell under complete conviction as Easter approached. He wrote: “On the Wednesday of Holy Week began a hope of mercy. On the Thursday, that hope increased. On … Easter Day … I awoke with these words upon my heart and lips: Jesus Christ is risen today, hallelujah, hallelujah!”

The days that followed were a challenge in that the young Christian could literally find no fellowship. At one point he posted a note in the university commons. It read, to paraphrase, “Newly converted Christian seeks company with other believers in Christ! If interested pleased contact Charles Simeon…”

The rest of the Simeon story is one of a man who was used by the Holy Spirit to be the light of the world. In the months and years that followed, Simeon opened his apartment to hundreds of other students. Bible study and prayer meetings at all hours. Eventually, he became what we might call the university chaplain. It would not be hyperbole to say that Simeon’s lone witness was the root of an amazing revival at this great university. He became the Pastor in a large church and the other clergy resented him passionately. As usual, the religious people, including the clergy, who were not born again…simply could not understand Simeon. A contemporary of his, an admirer, spoke of the opposition to his witness as follows:

“Those who worshipped there (at his church) were supposed to have left common sense, discretion, sobriety, attachment to the establishment a love for the liturgy and almost whatever else is true and of good report in the vestibule!”

It is likely that we read such accounts and are slightly dismissive. I mean, we might say “Well, that’s a great story and God be praised! But I doubt if the Holy Spirit can or will use me in such a way.” OK. But we must pray that the Holy Spirit will use us in some way that He is pleased to arrange. That may be a quiet witness to neighbors or family. We are not to all become Simeon clones but rather we are to be those who are salt and light in our own ways. Led of the Lord.

So…it has always interested me that the Lord Jesus Christ said he was “the light of the world” (John 9:5). As we sit on the mountainside, he might remind us that we are also “the light of the world” because we are his genuine disciples. That we are to each have an impact for the Kingdom of God and Lordship of Christ in that role.

Question: Is my light on? Is your light on?

Blessings! Pastor Alberta

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