Hidden Secrets, Salt, and Light
February 04, 2023
You are the light of the world!
You are the salt of the earth!
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash
The Fellowship of Joy!
This is a message and sermon for The Fellowship of Joy all over the world.
That includes you!
Live Sermon will be added tomorrow, 2-5-2023, recorded at 8:00 AM, from Facebook.com/tomsims
Discussion Questions for Small Groups at the bottom
You can organize your own groups of 2-3 or more where you are and we will assist you with resources.
Psalm 112 NRSVU
Praise the Lord!
Happy are those who fear the Lord,
who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady; they will not be afraid;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely; they have given to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked see it and are angry;
they gnash their teeth and melt away;
the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.
You have, most likely. heard many sermons on salt and light and what it means for God's people to be like salt and light in the world.
Today, I just want to remind you that all of the ideas that arise from those two metaphors are very helpful and thought-propelling. I encourage you to review them, meditate upon them, and consider their benefits to the world.
But I am not going to focus there today.
The one thing both have in common is that they do good. They make the world a more livable and loveable place for people where people can see the love and glory of God.
Isaiah expresses God's desire for that kind of world as being the basis of our spiritual disciplines.
Isaiah 58:1-12 NRSVU
Shout out; do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they want God on their side.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day
and oppress all your workers.
You fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your needs in parched places
and make your bones strong,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
Download and Listen to The Fast That Repairs and Brings Light
Isaiah takes us back in time. In his prophetic word, chapter 58, he is opening himself to allow the voice of God to speak through him and to ask the people a question, why do you fast?
Why do you fast? But you don't see?
Why do you humble yourselves? But you do not notice?
You serve your own interest on your fast day and you oppress all your workers. Uh, and it's true what Isaiah's saying and what Isaiah's allowing God to speak through him, that when they quarrel and fight and strike and act in selfish ways and do injustice, and then yet refrain from food and put off on slo and ashes, it's a contradiction.
They're contradicting their own beliefs. They're contradicting their own lives. They're contradicting their own religious behavior.
So in verse six of chapter 58, the question comes up because God poses it is not this the fast I choose to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppress go free and to bear every yoke.
God goes on This fast is for sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless pour into your house when you see the naked to cover them and not to hide yourself from your own kin.
We take up at verse eight, and there's a word of hope that goes with this admonition and condemnation. When you get it right, God says, then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly. Your vindicator shall go before you. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer. You shall cry for help. And he will say, here, m i.
But verse nine, part b says, if you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of afflicted, then you're like shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like noon day.
The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs, impart to places, and make your bones strong.
And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
How would you like that reputation in this world and in the world to come? How would you like to be known that way as a restorer, as a repairer, as a rebuild of ancient ruins?
Would to God that we would have yoke removers among us, that we would have and be the people who share, the people who speak out against injustice, the people who work for justice, the people who love God's poor, God's people, God's oppressed, broken people in this world, and build them up, honor them, dignify them, and in so doing honor and dignify and glorify God, and bring glory and light in and through our own lives.
Tikkun olam תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם,. 'repair of the world' is an in Judaism, that names various action intended to repair and improve the world.
Isaiah says this is the glory of God being revealed.
Paul calls it all a great mystery that has been revealed in the good news. He calls it secret wisdom that has been communicated through the weakness of Spirit-empowered humanity and the cross of Jesus.
Secret Wisdom and Hidden Glories
Download and Listen to Secret Wisdom
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory … But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” – I Corinthians 2:6 and 9
The hidden wisdom of God, revealed in Jesus and discerned by spiritual men, is offered to those for whom it is prepared. It is the wonder of God’s purposes and glory. It is shared on a “need-to-know” basis, as we need to know.
And what we do know is that there is much that we cannot know.
We have a glimpse if we have gained it through spiritual sight. We have the earnest of the Spirit. We are gladdened by promises from God Himself. But still, we see through a glass darkly. Only dim reflections illumine our insight into eternity for as yet, it is still far beyond us, above us, and other than us.
It is not that God does not want us to know or desires for us to remain in the dark; it is that we simply cannot receive the fullness of this knowledge while confined to time, space, and physical body. That is why what relatively little we know comes by other than intellectual receptors. In the meantime, He is preparing us for the day when we can know perfectly as we are known.
There is coming a time when all the secrets will be revealed. In that day, in a finite immeasurable moment, our eyes will be opened, and we shall be eternally with the Lord. Whatever we imagined about God and eternity, Heaven and glory in this life will not compare to what He has purposed to share with us.
Oh wondrous, glorious, mystery and bliss,
By grace, the moment we shall not miss,
Beyond the veil of time and space
When by His side we take our place.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 NRSV
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within?
So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny.
“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
What was in the mind of Christ as he walked, lived, and taught among us?
A Jewish Rabbi, who honored God's Law, Jesus said that he came to fulfill it. Further, he said that his disciples were called to exceed it by living out its intentions and meaning.
True righteousness can never be only about dotting the letter "i" or crossing the letter, "T."
True righteousness is embodied in Isaiah's vision. It is Paul's mystery. It is the glory we experience when our righteousness comes by faith first and then enables us to live the lifestyle of Kingdom citizens.
Look to the word and heart of Jesus as he calls us to step out of ourselves and into the world as his people.
Matthew 5:13-20 NRSVU
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
You live out the rituals and the law, the fasts, and the requirements of Torah, by having the heart and mind of Christ and by repairing, renewing, and restoring the world and its people.
Heal the world, and the song goes.
Do it because God has healed you and forgiven your sins in Christ. Do it out of joy. Do it as a response to grace. Do it because you have freely received that you might freely give.
Do it because, of all the things you can do and be, this is the one thing that is most satisfyingly and significant.
Now, hear this voice:
Small Group Discussion
- Which of the scriptures or verses in this posting most describes where you are in life or speaks to you?
- Why? How?
- Is there a call to action in this message or in any of these passages for you, for your group r for your congregation?
- What are some practical ways we can repair and restore where we live, being salt and light?
- Are there obstacles? How will we deal with them? Can we stop and pray about them now?
- What will we do between now and when we meet next?