Little Touches in a Chaotic World
Chaotic – that’s the word I think best describe the world we live in today. If you’re like me, watching the nightly news on TV or a quick read of the morning paper will be all it takes to convince you that things are messy out there! Chaos and confusion reign! All around us people are dealing with the results of criminal behavior, natural disasters, broken relationships, political turmoil, generational poverty, financial stress, or simply the pressures of everyday life in modern society.
We’d like to think that these are unusually difficult times – that things are worst now than they have ever been — but that’s simply not true. In all reality not much has changed over the centuries. Technology has advanced, knowledge has increased, conveniences have been multiplied, travel has been made much easier, and entertainment options are almost ridiculous. But the human condition is still the same. People struggle to find peace, happiness, fulfillment, purpose, and meaning in their lives while dealing with their own share of problems, hardships, disappointments, challenges, and “chaos” around them.
I’ve been thinking lately about something Jesus said, especially given the situation we’ve found ourselves in as a country following the recent election. In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?…..You are the light of the world……Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify the Father that is in heaven.” The louder the noise around me has gotten, the more I’ve been wondering what I can do to help calm the chaos? How can I really be “salt and light” in the midst of this mess?
First I think I need to understand what Jesus meant. In biblical times salt was used for two primary purposes. Since there was no refrigeration, one of the chief purposes of “salt” was as a preservative. Many types of food perishables were salted and dried so they could be consumed at a later time. In addition, salt was also used as a flavor enhancer, much like we use it today. A little salt can make a huge difference in how something may taste.
The purpose of “light” has never changed! Light has always been used to dispel darkness. When there’s light that which is unseen can be seen, clearing the path in front of us to confidently move forward.
In the past I’ve illustrated that truth by taking people into a darkened gymnasium. I’d tell them I was going to move to a spot, stand there silently and ask them to walk straight to me. In the complete darkness they often would wander all over the gym….somewhat lost and confused. But as soon as I would light one small candle they could come straight to me.
I believe the message of Christ for us today is the same as it was to His followers then. Obviously the world is an awfully big place, and it has problems that are far too great for any of us to solve. But we can be “salt” and “light” in our own sphere of influence. We can add a little “flavor”, help “preserve” a few relationships, and shine the “light” in the darkness around us. Even a little “salt” and a little “light” can make a big difference in someone’s life.
So how do we do that? How can we bring a little of God’s love to people living in this chaos? Actually I don’t think it’s as hard to do that as we sometimes think it is!
If you live near a school you could bring coffee and treats for the teacher’s break room, serve as a reader in a kindergarten class, be a “lunch buddy” for one of the students who needs a mentor, or even be a greeter welcoming kids and their families to school each morning. How about providing rides for some senior citizens so they can participate in the Silver Sneakers program, hosting a monthly luncheon for single mom’s, or a Saturday morning “Donuts with Dads” to help fathers spend some quality time with their kids at your YMCA. Non-profit agencies in your community are always looking for volunteers to help them meet the needs of an underserved population, coming alongside of at risk kids, provide shelter and resources for those who are homeless, or support the families of those who are dealing with life-changing health issues.
The point is we don’t have to solve all of society’s issues to be “salt” and “light” in our little corner of the world. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something to make a difference. Remember what Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify the Father that is in heaven.”
Whatever your role is, you can be the salt that makes life “taste better”, preserve relationships, and penetrates the culture of your community. The light you help share can dispel the darkness that so often impacts the lives of those around you, offering a message of hope and comfort in the midst of life’s hardships and trials. Just a ray of light or a dash salt is sometimes all it takes to make the chaos of our modern day life bearable.
When I was child I learned a simple song in Sunday School; “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…..let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”. Isn’t it funny how such a simple little song could contain such a profound truth?
My prayer is that we will all learn how to be the “salt” and “light” in a world filled with chaos!!