This is the manuscript for the sermon I preached at West Bradenton Baptist Southside on Sunday January 26th, 2020.
We are four weeks into our series “Neighborhoods and Nations”. This series has been designed to help us look at and talk about the calling God has placed on us individually and as a church to both our neighborhood and to the nations. Ultimately, we will continue to discover how we can effectively be a neighborhood church (local) for the nations (global) and what that looks like. Last Sunday I talked about expectations. I spent some time talking about the difference between Church Membership and Church Attendership. I talked about what a Church member is and is not.
So, as I have been spending the three-weeks talking a lot about our purpose (To glorify God in everything), what constitutes a church (The church is a people, not a program) and our expectations (I will…), and we now come to the nuts and bolts or foundation of what we have been talking about and it is our responsibility or our God-given call to our neighborhood.
God has established this church right here at 1604 17th Street West smack dab in the middle of Bradenton for a reason, and the reason is not to just show up every Sunday and have a service. We have a greater job to do and that job entails sharing and shining. God has called us to be a witness or light to this community and neighborhood. We have something this neighborhood (and the world for that matter) needs. We are God’s people and we have been given the gift of Salvation and we have been entrusted with the Gospel message. “For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts. For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others. Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nurse nurtures her own children. We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3 - 8
The Gospel is the message Salvation it is this is the gift of God by grace. It has been given to us by grace (unmerited favor) through faith. Jesus came to save the world from sin. Therefore, we call him Savior. Through his life He came to show the way to the Kingdom of God and through his death and resurrection He made it possible to receive it. You see Jesus came to give us the ultimate gift… Because of his great love, He gave his life so that we could have life and have it abundantly. This is THE gift from God. He gave it, have you received it?
Salt & Light
Reminder There are 25,000 people living in a 1-mile radius from West B. Southside and this means that we have our work cut out for us. So I would like to spend the time we have together to “flesh out” what it is that we are called to be and do in our community and neighborhood.
In Matthew 5:13 – 16, this portion of Scripture is part of a sermon series that Jesus gave called “The Sermon on the Mount” and Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He is speaking to those who have dedicated their lives to following and serving him (his disciples and ultimately to us). In this passage Jesus uses the examples of salt and light to describe His people and to remind us what we are called to do.
He first describes believers as the salt of the earth. Salt was the most commonly used seasoning in antiquity: ‘Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt?’ (Job 6:6). Its preservative powers made it an absolute necessity of life and a virtual synonym for essential life-giving forces and, not surprisingly, endowed it with religious significance. One of the main purposes of Salt was for preservation and it was intended to keep an object in the state in which it was found and it was used to bring out the flavor in foods. But it was not intended to make it better. In Ancient Israel it was meant to keep meat and fish from spoiling. The purpose was to preserve, but it could not revive or refresh… thus it could not make spoiled meat fresh.
Jesus also called his disciples to be the light of the world. Israel were the people God intended to shine his bright light into the world’s dark corners, not simply to expose evil but to help people who were blundering in the dark to find their way. They didn’t do a great job at that. So here Jesus is calling his followers to complete the job originally set out for Israel.
So, it is in this passage Jesus is calling his people to preserve the message he is preaching by being salt and sharing this message by letting the light (message of hope and salvation) they have shine brightly and unashamedly.
Jesus talks about a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Jerusalem was a city set on a hill and they were called to be the light of the world. They were to show the world the way to the one true God and that He should be worshiped. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. It is impossible. It is already exposed.
A City on a Hill (The Church)
A lamp is not put under a basket
We are God’s people. We have received THE gift of God. So, what is our call or response to our neighborhood and the nations?
As Disciples of Christ we are called to be the salt and light of the world. This is THE job of the believer. This is the GIFT God has given to us.
God has given you the greatest gift you could ever want or ask for… life. This is the gift that keeps on giving. This is the gift we must share with our neighbors. Let us not be ashamed of this gift. Let us work hard to be salt and light and refuse to work hard to keep it hidden and useless.
 Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 893). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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