You Are the Salt of the Earth

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.(Matthew 5:13)

Salt is incredibly important for various reasons. It gives flavor for cooking. It serves as a preservative for food. Some salts are even important in agricultural fertilizer. Salt was incredibly important in Jesus’ time and it continues to be important in our time.

When I was traveling in sub-Saharan Africa, mining for salt near a natural salt lake continued to this day. The salt was bagged up and sent throughout the region as an important export of that specific area because salt is important and valuable.

In some ways, here in Jesus’ teaching, it is less important what salt does, and perhaps more important what salt is. Salt is salty. It has a salty impact upon the world around it. If it loses its saltiness, well, it really isn’t valuable as salt anymore. You might even wonder if it’s still salt. Jesus says such material will be thrown out and trampled underfoot. It might as well be sand.

In a similar manner, disciples should have an impact on the world around them. Like salt in all its various uses in the world—flavoring, preserving, fertilizing—disciples are to have an important impact on the world around them. What is that impact? Well, Jesus will expound on that in the later sections of the Sermon on the Mount, but we can give a shorthand definition like this:

Disciples of Jesus are to proclaim and embody the love of Jesus Christ wherever they are. They are to look like Jesus in their character, words, and actions.

And here in this specific example from Matthew 5:13, disciples should taste like the kingdom of God and bring that wonderful savor, preservative, and fruitfulness to the world.

Just like unsalty salt isn’t really salt anymore, so un-disciple-y disciples aren’t really disciples anymore. It’s nonsensical to be a non-disciple-y disciple. And disciples live like God in the world.

So, to these everyday people who have become disciples—and to us—Jesus says: “You’re in the Kingdom of God and part of My people. So live as salty disciples wherever you are. Just don’t lose your saltiness.”

Walk with Jesus: The Road to Emmaus as a Picture of Whole-Life Discipleship

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Daniel BonnellRoad to Emmaus I; 2011.

The story begins like this: Jesus was arrested and His followers fled. He was tried and killed by crucifixion. His body was taken from the Cross by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a wealthy, secret follower of Jesus. The disciples scattered at Jesus’ arrest, but returned to one another in a gathering place in Jerusalem. Some women went to the tomb to care for Jesus’ body, but the body wasn’t there. They talked about angelic presences that informed them Jesus had risen from the grave. But it seemed so hard to believe, most of the others remained skeptical. Later the same day on which the women visited the empty tomb, two disciples walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a town west by northwest from Jerusalem. 

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

Look again at that phrase: “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” (Luke 24:15). If we look at this story as an image of discipleship it reminds us that discipleship is primarily walking with and in the way of Jesus.

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Discipleship means to apprentice to someone, or to take someone on as a teacher. Jewish rabbis often invited their disciples – or apprentices – to follow in their steps, or walk in their way. This was more about taking on the approach to life of their teacher or master. 

Because of that, discipleship in the New Testament is often described as walking. We see this in Ephesians, when several times, Paul writes things like “walk worthy of your calling” (Eph 4:1) or “walk in the good works that God commanded ahead of time” (2:10). The Greek word περιπατέω literally relates to walking, but became a metaphor for living life under a certain leader’s way of life and teaching. For Christians, this means experientially walking with the Risen Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit but also walking in the way of life that Jesus modeled and opened to us through His life, death, and resurrection.

As these two disciples walk on their way, Jesus comes to walk with them. The way of discipleship – growing as a follower of Jesus – is essentially learning the way of Jesus. We invite Him to walk with us in our lives; sometimes, even recognizing that He is walking with us when we didn’t realize it. Discipleship means letting the everyday context of our lives become a setting in which we increasingly walk with Him and walk like Him; that is, we live with Jesus and learn His ways.

When we say the word discipleship, it is not primarily about a curriculum or about a book or about certain activities. Rather, we learn in the ordinary context of our daily life to walk with Jesus and in the way of Jesus. When we go to the store, we learn to walk with and in the way Jesus. When we go to our workplace or school, we learn to walk with and in the way Jesus. When we enjoy conversations with others, we learn to walk with and in the way Jesus.  Day by day, we grow as disciples, not just in the religious sphere of our lives, but in the totality of our lives. Jesus is not that interested in one slice of the pie of our lives called “church,” but in revolutionizing all of our lives as we walk with Him and grow in His way of being truly human. This is what discipleship is all about.

Growing Disciples

As we continued our “Roots” series this past weekend at Eastbrook Church we looked at what it means to be a disciple, grow as a disciple, and invite others to discipleship. To do that, I walked through the memorable story of Jesus appearing to two disciples along the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. I discussed how disciples walk with Jesus, hear from Jesus, burn for Jesus, and speak about Jesus.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

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Roots: Looking Back and Reaching Forward

 

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Roots: Looking Back and Reaching Forward.” This series is the second of a three-part series related to our 40th anniversary as a church, following on our series, “Power in Prayer.” This is a series celebrating our legacy as a church, and also recalibrating as we head into the future together. We will look back at what God has done in our midst at Eastbrook, while also looking forward to what God is calling us into as a church.

September 7/8 – “Activated by the Holy Spirit”

September 14/15 – “Truly Community”

September 21/22 – “Growing Disciples”

September 28/29 – “Sacrificial Generosity”

October 4/5 – “Worship in the Beauty of Holiness”

Becoming a Multiplying Church

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If we are going to move toward Revelation 7:9-10 as the church of Jesus Christ, then we must pursue growth as disciples – both through developing new disciples and going deeper in life as existing disciples.

If we are going to become a Revelation 7 type of church, then we must reach out as a church and as individuals through evangelism (word), community outreach (deed), and more.

But if we are going to do grow disciples and if we are going to reach out, then we have to also intentionally pursue multiplication as a church. Some may say, ‘but what’s biblical about all that?’ It sounds very programmatic and organizational.

Let me say this about “intentionality.”  We are either intending to become something or we are sliding toward something. I would rather intend to become God’s best for us as a church than unintentionally slide toward something else.

Multiplying in ministry is actually one of the most biblical things we can do, so let’s turn back to the Bible to see how this concept plays out through the entire Scripture. Let me share some notes on multiplication from the lives of Moses, Jesus, and Paul.

Moses on Multiplication (Exodus 18)

  • The man of God redeemed from his wrongs
    • Birth (Exodus 2:1-14)
    • Early errors and murder (Exodus 2:11-15)
    • Purification in the desert (Exodus 2:16-25)
    • Calling at the burning bush (Exodus 3-4)
  • The work of God in the Exodus
    • The challenge to God’s people (Exodus 5)
    • The conflict with Pharaoh (Exodus 6-13)
    • The deliverance (Exodus 13:17f)
    • The Red Sea showdown (Exodus 14:5-31)
    • Provision of Manna (Exodus 16)
    • Defeat of Amalekites (Exodus 17)
    • The Sinai revelation (Exodus 19)
  • Advice from Jethro (Exodus 18)
    • Moses is exhausted (18:1-12)
    • Jethro’s advice (18:13-23)
    • Moses’ change of approach (18:24-27)
      • Capable men (18:25)
      • Leaders of groupings (18:25)
      • Task of leadership/shepherding (18:26)
      • Moses’ change of role (18:26)

Jesus on Multiplication (Luke 5:1-11, 27-32; 6:12-16; 9:1-6; 10:1-20)

  • Luke 5:1-11, 27-32 – Jesus calls the first disciples
  • Luke 6:12-16 – Jesus chooses the 12 apostles
  • Luke 9:1-6 – Jesus sends out the 12 apostles to do what he did
  • Luke 10:1-20 – Jesus sends out 72 to do what the 12 did

Paul on Multiplication (Acts 20:4-5)

“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas.” (Acts 20:4-5)

Paul’s apprentices:

  • Some we know nothing about: Pyrrhus; Secundus; Gaius; Trophimus
  • Aristarchus (Col 4:10; Philemon 24)
  • Tychicus (Col 4:7-9; Eph 6:21-22; Titus 3:12)
  • Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25-30)
  • Demas (Philemon 24)
  • Titus (letter)
  • Timothy (1 & 2 letter)
    • Acts 16:1-5 – beginnings with Paul
    • Acts 17:13-15 – teaching the faith
    • Timothy writing with Paul (2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 & 2 Thess 1:1; Philemon)
    • Timothy described by Paul (Philemon 2:19-24)

Paul talks about this in a specific way in his words to the young pastor, Timothy. Timothy was one of Paul’s young leaders who had accompanied him on much of his mission work and he is now a young pastor in the city of Ephesus.

Paul writes:

“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The Multiplication Principle (2 Timothy 2:2) 

Why we must multiply:

  • If we are healthy disciples, we multiply disciples
  • If we are healthy in our service, we multiply servants
  • If we are healthy in our ministry, we multiply ministers
  • Why?…our need (Moses)
  • Why?…development of the other (Paul)
  • Why?…the missions of the Master (Jesus)

When we must multiply:

  • Right away!
  • Share whatever God is teaching us with someone today

Who we must look for (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

  • Desire
  • Character
  • Capable
  • Mature
  • Available

So may we be a disciple-making church that is also a multiplying church. May we live toward the Revelation 7 vision of the church, which is also God’s dream for the church, where people from every tribe, tongue and nation are gathered around the throne of God.