Every Tuesday in August, ELCA pastors and leaders are sharing contemplative prompts for reflection and meditation. Today, Lamont Anthony Wells, executive director of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, shares his thoughts on Matthew 5:13-16:

[Jesus said,] “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all 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.”

Living Lutheran: What does this passage mean in context?

Wells: This particular passage of Scripture is significantly calling us to be who we are purposed to be. As salt in the earth and the light of God in the world, our lived influence is enhancing the creation around us. Or at least it should be doing so. As believers, we have in us moral matter and divine resources that enable us to live pointing to the way of God. Moreover, the essence of who we are is not simply for show and self-admiration but to be a catalyst for positivity and transformation so that others will experience us in ways that bring glory to God.

What does this mean for the modern world? What can we learn from this?

The ability for us to manifest this salt and light is becoming harder and harder in the times in which we live. We almost have to be intentional in being countercultural, which is the hope in the text. Jesus is explaining that who we are created to be is not always how we show up. This text is a great reminder to remember, recall and reflect on our purpose and be intentional and mindful of how we show up at every time and in every place.

Can you share a meditation inspired by this Scripture?

Someone, something and some place needs the beautiful essence of our divinity to exude from our lives, maybe even for their own survival or at least to prompt their own divine connection. The declaration “You are …” are powerful words that realign our lives from common distractions that often hinder us. Every now and then we all need a pep talk to give us the nudge we need to live our best lives by fulfilling our divine purpose. May the God of all creation continually remind us of who we are so that we all may be positive enhancements in all the world around us.

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