Brian G. Chilton: Finding the Right Balance of Salt and Light in the Christian Life

Life is often about finding the right balance. Too much of anything is bad for a person, even water. Consuming too much water will cause one to lose electrolytes and minerals which could lead to death—a condition called hyponatremia. The point is, balance is important with nearly everything. This same is true of the Christian life and Christian theology.

Consider the issue with divine sovereignty and human freedom. If a person accepts the sovereignty of God without human freedom, then a person accepts a determinist philosophy in which human beings become nothing more than preprogramed robots. If a person accepts human freedom and neglects divine sovereignty, the person’s perception of God becomes flawed to the point that the person contends that God does not know anything about the future. Both concepts are beyond the teachings of Scripture in my estimation. Balance is important in one’s interpretation of Scripture.

Jesus presents two concepts concerning the Christian life in his classic message: the Sermon on the Mount. On the one hand, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Mt. 5:13, CSB). On the other hand, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are 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” (Mt. 5:14-16, CSB). One trait without the other leads to an illegitimate Christian lifestyle and an erroneous biblical interpretation.

  • Salt – Light = Legalism.

First, Jesus instructs the Christian to be the salt of the earth. Salt was used in biblical days as a purifying agent as well as a substance to add flavor to food. If the salt lost its flavor, then the salt was not good for anything except to be thrown out. The worthless salt would be thrown out to do nothing but kill the grass on which it fell. Salt represents the righteousness of a person as well as the person’s stand for truth.

If a person has salt in one’s life with no light (representing God’s love and grace), then the person will become a legalist. Legalistic Christianity has led more individuals to atheism than Karl Marx and Charles Darwin combined. Legalism can also lead to the creation of cults and cultic churches which is extremely troubling! Legalism is an inauthentic Christian worldview which Jesus and Paul often combated. Don’t let yourself become Pharisaical or a Judaizer in your stance for truth. As Paul says, “And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Co. 13:3).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brian G. Chilton