You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
—Matthew 5:14

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t rapture you the moment you were saved? He left you here for a purpose, and that is to be an influence for Him. In Matthew 5, Jesus was preaching the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (v. 13). In Jesus’ day, salt had two functions. First, it was used to flavor food. But there was a more compelling reason for salt. In the days before refrigeration, salt was a preservative for meat. To preserve meat that was decaying, it had to be in contact with salt.

Jesus is saying we are living in a culture that is decaying. All you have to do is turn on the TV to know we are in a foul culture, a decaying culture. But Jesus says we need to influence our culture, and the only way we are going to influence our culture for God is by engaging with people who have differing points of view.

Christians tend to go to one of two extremes in relating to a decaying culture. Some Christians say, “If I’m going to make a difference in society, I need to identify with the culture. I need to become like unbelievers and show them that Christians are just like everybody else.” Is that the way you influence the culture? Jesus says if salt loses its saltiness, it has become tasteless. If you become like everybody else, there is no distinctiveness to you. The way you preserve and influence your culture is not becoming like the culture; it’s by living in a distinctive way from the culture. Other Christians go to the other extreme, and they isolate themselves from the culture. They are so afraid of being contaminated by our decaying culture that they huddle in their churches and in Christian groups and say, “We have to protect ourselves from becoming contaminated.” That is not the answer either. Jesus doesn’t want us to isolate ourselves from unbelievers, and He doesn’t want us identify with unbelievers. Instead, He said our goal should be to influence the culture. And the way we do that is by coming in contact with other unbelievers.

Jesus uses another analogy in verse 14. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” We are living in a dark world. Christians are to be the light that dispels the darkness. But light can never dispel darkness unless it comes in contact with the darkness. Imagine walking into a dark garage at night. You have a flashlight in your pocket. If you say, “I don’t want to offend the darkness, so I’ll keep my light in my pocket,” you’re not doing any good. The only way the darkness will be dispelled is if the light collides with the darkness. It’s the same way with us. The reason God has placed you in your job, in your school, in your neighborhood, or within a certain group of friends, is so that you can influence them for God.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Influence Our Culture for God” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.