Matthew 5:13-20 The Message
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.”
“Keep open house; be generous with your lives.” “Let your light so shine before others that they see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” We can so easily turn this into self-exaltation—making sure we’re holy, making sure we’re doing all the righteous, holy things—but Peterson’s paraphrase gets it right: it’s about generosity. It’s about light—penetrating, life-giving, welcoming light. They will know we are Christians not by our do’s and don’ts, but by our love. The kind of light that matters, really, is friendship.
In friendship, four elements in particular seem pertinent: love, affection, security, and happiness. Love involves serving with benevolence. Affection involves an inward pleasure, which manifests outwardly, and security means revealing all our secrets and confidences without fear or suspicion they’ll be betrayed. Finally, happiness involves a pleasing and friendly sharing of all our experiences, the events in our lives whether joyful or sad; of all our thoughts, whether they are harmful or useful; indeed, of everything we’re taught or we learn—all our life.
—Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) Spiritual Friendship 3.51