“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:13–16 NLT)
In 1930, when Mohandas Gandhi and other national leaders were considering what their first act of civil disobedience would be to protest on behalf of India’s independence, Gandhi pushed for the Salt Tax Act as the focus of their efforts. This tax made it illegal for Indians to collect or sell salt, giving the British rulers a monopoly on this dietary staple. From March 12 to April 6, Gandhi and seventy-eight of his followers marched 240 miles to the ocean, gathering more people along the way, where Gandhi collected salt by evaporating saltwater. Along with Gandhi, more than 60,000 Indians were arrested for taking part in the Salt March.
While salt itself is not essential to life, it is one of the chief sources of sodium, which is crucial to our health and well-being for a number of reasons. Salt is also an essential food preservative in areas – or eras – where refrigeration is impossible. Similarly, light is essential to life. Without it, plants cannot grow; additionally, natural sunlight is a chief source of vitamin D in humans, promoting bone health and strengthening the immune system.
In calling us salt and light, Jesus is calling his followers essential to the work of his Kingdom. Because our saltiness and brightness do not come from ourselves – their source is found in God – it is not up to us alone, but God still chooses to partner with us and use us as his agents of change in the world. We must therefore decide how we will allow the saltiness and brightness that come from God to be used to further his glory.