The Holy Gospel: February 6, 2011 (Year A)

Reading:  Matthew 5:13-20

Meditation:  “Who You Are Is What You Do”

For years I’ve heard pastors lament, “I cannot get my people interested in discipleship.”  I’ve pondered that for a long time, and I have come to believe it is because we have put the cart before the horse.  Before any of us can become interested in “discipleship,” we must first recognize we are “disciples.”  In other words, identity precedes investment.

Jesus moves from the Beatitudes to two foundational “you are” statement—statements which identify us as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  Neither image makes any sense apart from an eventual investment—salt on food, light in the world.  But for the investment to take place salt has to recognize it’s for flavoring, and light has to recognize it’s for shining. 

In other words, who we are is what we do.  Being precedes doing.  Identity ignites investment.  We cannot hope to engage people in ministries of “discipleship” who do not understand they are “disciples.” 

Jesus says, “You are…” before he tells them “to keep…”  We will never invest ourselves in anything if we do not have the identity which connects us to it.  Jesus is saying, “When you realize you are salt, you’ll start looking for some food to sprinkle yourself on.  When you realize you are light, you will begin to seek out dark places where you can shine.” 

This week’s Gospel lesson asks, “Who are you?”  How we answer that question will go a long way in determining how we live the rest of the week, and the rest of our lives.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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