by Sarah Ng
I grew up being nagged by my parents with threats like, “Better study hard and get a stable job in the future, else good for nothing…”
Our parents who have brought us into this world feel the immense responsibility to bring their children up well so that we may be found of good use – both to the family and to society-at-large, and rightly so.
One of the worst nightmares any person could have is to be found “useless”, especially when it comes to the very purpose for which we are created. Each one of us is created by God for a purpose. There comes a time when we will face a reality check. Will we be found of good use or found good for nothing?
It is quite a stigma in society to be labelled as someone who is “good for nothing”, but even Jesus used this strong language to put across the severity of the consequences of not being found useful in His Kingdom.
In Matthew 5:13–16, He says to all believers,
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
This passage is a call to all believers to have an impact on society and transform nations. It is a call to be relevant and to be a change agent wherever we are. It is an invitation given to all of us, His disciples, regardless of how weak we are and regardless of our position, status, or career path.
We are all called to be vessels and channels of God to make Him known and transform society. We are called to influence, create impact, and advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.
In the frenzy of hand-washing, safe distancing, and working from home, which has already become our new normal, the constant thought in my mind is this, “Do believers stand out as different? Are we relevant — do we have an answer and can we make sense from God’s Word regarding what is happening and where this is all going? Are we a change agent that brings hope, direction and peace to many hearts in such times of uncertainty?”
Like how salt is used to preserve, are we able to slow down the moral decay and depravity in society in accordance with the Truth of God? And like how eating salt causes us to be thirsty, are we making people thirsty for God because of the reality of God in our lives and the vibrancy of our hearts?
God in His great wisdom creates opportunities in for us to look inward and deal with areas of compromise in our lives. With this global pandemic, He is giving us the chance to do a healthcheck — have we lost our “saltiness”? Are we light in the midst of chaos? Have we been found of good use? Or are we good for nothing?
We lose our “saltiness” when we neglect cultivating the Beatitudes and living the Sermon-on-the-Mount lifestyle (Matt. 5–7). We cease to be the light when we ourselves lack “oil in our lamps” — a life of spiritual intimacy with Jesus that gives rise to knowing His heart and ways. If we were salt and light, we would be able to give understanding and thus point people to Him.
Being the salt and light is the result of walking out the eight Beatitudes. Matt. 5:13–16 comes after Matt. 5:3–10; in other words, we can’t truly advance God’s Kingdom unless we become Kingdom people. We can’t be God’s change agents and effectively transform society without walking out the Sermon-on-the-Mount lifestyle. We cannot transform others unless we ourselves are firstly being transformed.
Make no mistake, being salt and light is not a strategy or program. It isn’t about relying on our talents, gifts, plans and strategies to attempt transformation. It is about firstly reaching to become the very Kingdom people of God in our lifestyle, character and values, and then from there influencing those around us. Then, we would be found of “good use” for His Kingdom.