Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 5.16).
A sermon of a famous preacher has this passage: "If your life be not as becometh the Gospel of Christ, the world will despise religion as worthless". Is this why there is a loss of faith and zeal in these trying days? Does the world's unbelief and scorn induce a growing loss of zeal, conviction and enterprise? Do we just settle down in social comfort and fellowship to wait for the Lord to set up His Kingdom and take His Church to heavenly glory without concern for the outward characteristics of salt and light in the world?
Advancing age can justify some slowing down in active service. Times are more strenuous and trying. There may be restrictions of opportunity; fewer with whom to co-operate. We would not seriously argue any of these things with our Master face to face. He would exhort us to go on, whatever the disadvantages, just showing how a Christian can live. Yet we fail, often enough, to show this to our brethren. It brings leanness to the soul.
We view our Christian life from too intellectual a viewpoint. We start this life in carefully described technical terms; repentance, justification, consecration, sanctification and glorification. It is presented to the new believer as though he is invited to enter a commercial agreement with God. Cold as ice, and about as inviting! And all the time we ought to be conscious of the warm, vibrant words "sacrifice and offering you would not . . . a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise".
The source of the oil for the light and power for the salt are at the foot of the Cross, where repentance and determination, contrition and hope, renunciation and consecration, go hand in hand. Not in the emotionless formalism of the detached acceptance of a cold invitation "if you do this … I will give you that" but in the spontaneous eager realization of tender, compassionate tones "My son, give me your heart . . . who will go for us?". There lies the power that will make us "shine forth as the sun" now in the sight of all men. So shall we experience what was in the mind of Luke when he saw the fellowship of the Early Church and wrote "praising God, and having favour with all the people: and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved". Is it any accident that those two phrases are associated so intimately together?