Foundations: You Are What Jesus Says You Are

By Harrison Goodman
You, Christian, are the salt of the earth. Salt mattered more before we had refrigerators. It's not just that you give the world its flavor, and too much of you is bad for everyone's heart. You are the preservative. Jesus says you are what keeps everything from rotting and falling apart. You, Christian, are the light of the world. You stand between the world and the dark. That's a tall order. It's terrifying, especially as our numbers appear to shrink, our world appears to rot, and dark and latter days hem us in. It feels like we're losing. It feels like everything's falling apart. And somewhere down the line the hope of the Church stopped being about sharing Jesus with sinners and turned into just surviving another generation. Our concern stopped being that the world doesn't have enough peace and started being that we don’t have enough money, or power, or kids. It turns you from people Jesus died for into a commodity that will keep things going after this generation can't anymore. We're not just afraid for our institution. We're afraid for our future. Our relationships. Our health. We're afraid we don't have enough of whatever it takes to make things okay. If the salt has lost its saltiness, it's no good for anything. Trample it underfoot. It's called despair. It's not good for anything (Matthew 5:13).

Good for Nothing

Jesus seems to only want to twist the knife. Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). The thing is, they were probably better at this stuff than we are. The Pharisees weren't villains who twisted fancy mustaches. They were men who thought family mattered. They stood for morality and the good of their people. They supported their church. They were the upright people you’d expect to see standing against the darkness of the day. They were the ones building something that would last another generation. But that isn't enough. Their temple was torn down. Not one stone stood upon the other. Everything they fought for wasn't enough—not for this world, and not for the next. They were trampled underfoot, so where does that leave us?
So much of our struggle, our fear, our despair, is rooted in the fact that we go looking in the scriptures for a challenge rather than an identity. What can I do to achieve something worthwhile? Succeed where others failed? Build something that moth and rust can't destroy? (Matthew 6:19) What can I do to show I'm the salt and the light that will make this place better and make me stand out from those who make it worse? It puts a burden on kids who have too much on their plates already. It turns the Church into just one more obligation for youth who are looking to find help there but instead end up feeling it's their job to carry the Church forward.  

Jesus for You

Christianity is not about you. It's about Jesus for you. Christianity is not a challenge, it's an identity. The light of the world is Jesus. He is the light that dwells in darkness, which the darkness cannot overcome. The light became the light of men. Now the light is you. Not because of what you did. Not because of what you built. Not because of what you’ll stand for. Because Christ and His righteousness are yours. Now. For real.

The Light of Life

He is the light set on the hill. The light that comes into the darkness, that creeps in every time we sin and fail, every time we try our best and it isn't enough, and every time we contribute to the destruction by our own sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. The light has come into our darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it. The light was set on the hill of Calvary. Jesus died there for sinners. The afraid sinners. The despairing sinners. The sinners who couldn't do enough and the ones who made things worse. He died for me. He died for you. He died for Pharisees. He died for all. Your sins are forgiven you. Rot comes undone as He rises from the grave. Death is destroyed, dark is vanquished. Light shines from Christ.
That light shines through Christians to the world. Others see our good works. It's more than just the outward works of the Pharisees. More than the ability to build an institution or the power to enforce morality. More than your outward works. Who Christ is for us shows the world the inward work of love. Mercy. Forgiveness. Peace. This isn't a challenge, it’s an identity. You are love, because you were first loved. This is not a quantity of works, but a quality of character. You are not the sum of your sins weighed against the sum of your works. You are not what you've broken or failed to do. You are what Jesus made you. Salt. Light. Holiness. Loved.

Don't Fear Your Sin

This identity lets you face the fullness of the Law without fear. You don't need to downplay it or excuse it. You don't need to justify yourself by abolishing the parts that make you look like a sinner. Your sins are forgiven. You are in Christ. The Law can't hurt you. When the Son of God calls you holy and forgiven, the Law can't give you an identity. You don't need to excuse the Law, or hide or relax it because Jesus fulfills it for you. The more you relax the Law to flee from what it would call you, the more you try to not need Jesus.
To relax the Law is to point away from Jesus. To see the Law fulfilled and not relaxed one iota is to see Jesus. To teach the Law fully is to teach Jesus. Be not afraid of your failure. Be not afraid of your sin. Christ has fulfilled the Law. Christ has won your forgiveness. Christ has given you an identity, not a challenge. This is just who you are now. Baptized. Holy. Loved. Light.  
Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas.
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colors colossians 1 colossians 2 colossians 3 colossians 4 comes from above comfort of forgiveness comfort commandments commandment command commendation compassion composer concupiscence condemn conferences confessions confession confess confidence confinement confirmation bias confirmation connection conspiracy theory context conversion coronavirus corporate corw values council covenant coveting creation creed cross crowds seeking Jesus crown crucified crucifix cruciflood cry out cry culture curb current events curse cwirla daily bread dan brown danger darkness dash dead man talked dead dean death debate between Jesus debtors debt decisions decreased trust in institutions decrease defeat defense defensiveness defined by baptism deistic deliberate deliverer demands demons demon depression deserve destroy and raise temple destroy destruction of Jerusalem deuteonomy 1 deuteronomy 10 deuteronomy 11 deuteronomy 12 deuteronomy 13 deuteronomy 14 deuteronomy 15 deuteronomy 17 deuteronomy 18 deuteronomy 19 deuteronomy 1 deuteronomy 21 deuteronomy 24 deuteronomy 25 deuteronomy 27 deuteronomy 28 deuteronomy 29 deuteronomy 2 deuteronomy 30 deuteronomy 31 deuteronomy 32 deuteronomy 34 deuteronomy 3 deuteronomy 4 deuteronomy 5 deuteronomy 7 deuteronomy 8 deuteronomy 9 disagreement disaster disciples discipline dishonesty disinformation dispensational disruption diversity divorce do not be afraid do not condemn do not know the stranger's voice do not know the stranger\'s voice do research do unto others do you want to become his disciple? doctrines doctrine dogma domestic violence donkey door doubt doxology dreams dream drink his blood drink of water drove money changers from Temple dualistic dwelt among us dystopian earthquake easter eat his flesh ecclesiastes 1 ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embalming embarrassment emotional abuse emotions endure enemies enemy engineering enlightened ephesians 1 ephesians 3 ephesians 4 ephesians 5 ephesians 6 epistle equal equilibrium escalates estates eternal iife eternal life evangelicalism evangelism evangelists evangelist evil evolution example excuses exhalted exhortation exile exodus 20 exodus 32 experience extra nos ezekiel 1 face to face failure fairytale faith alone faith vs worry faithful faith fall false teachers false teaching family famine fate father of lies fear feast feeling wheel feelings female feminism fig tree fire first disciples flesh font food that endures to eternal life foolishness foolish for you foreigners foretaste forgiveness of sins forgiveness forgiven forgive fortress fractal fraud free in Christ free to participate freedom from sin freedom freshman fringes fulfillment funeral fun future galatians 1 galatians 3 galatians 4 galatians 5 galatians 6 galations 2 gathering fruit for eternal life gay gender generations generosity genesis 15 genesis 28 genesis 2 genesis 3 genesis 4 genesis11 genetic gentiles gerhardt getting punches in gifts gift girlfriend give me water give vineyard to others (gentiles) gloom glory gnosticism god's will god\'s will god\\\'s will golf good deeds good fruit good samaritan good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep good work good gospels gospel government grace alone grace and truth grandma gratitude great commission greatness grief groom/instill fear groom guard guest guide guileless guilt haiti hannah happiness harmony hated become haters have mercy he could co nothing he without sin cast the first stone heal on the Sabbath healing of invalid healing on Sabbath healingl heaven heinz heirs hell helpful sites online heresy hidden bias high priest high school hired hand fleees his own historic history holocaust denier holy spirit holy trinity holy homework homologoumen homosexuality honor the Father honor hopeless hope hostility hour not yet come humbled humility hurt hymnal hymnody hymn hyper-partisanship hypocrites i never knew you i samuel 15 iPad iPhone identity idolatry image-bearer image imitate imposters imputed increase incurvatus inheritance institutional racism institution intentional forgiveness intentional internet interpretation interpreta intimate relationship intimate introit invitation invite strangers (ggod irreducible complexity isaiah 29 isaiah 55 isaiah 6 isolation israel issuers issues ivory tower james jeremiah 11 jeremiah 20 jeremiah 22 jeremiah 23 jeremiah 5 jeremiah 7 jeremiah 8 jeremiah 9 jerome jerusalem jesus knows what is in Man jesus jewish job38 job john 10 john 12 john 13 john 14 john 16 john 19 john 20 john 21 john 3 john 6 john the baptist joshua 1 joshua 2 joshua 3 joy judas jude judgement is the Son's judgemental judgement judges 13 judges 14 judges 15 judges 16 judges 4 judges 6 judges 7 judge judging judgment seat judgment justification justify justin martyr kantor karma katrina keep keseman keys kill heir killed kings servants kind king=Jesus kingdom king knowledge kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law gives hearing lawyer tests Jesus law lay down my life and take it up again leaving mainline churches lectionary legacy lemon lentil stew lepers lex credendi lex orendi liberation life-changing life light of life light of the world light lilies of the field lion listen liturgical liturgy live forever live living bread living water lord's prayer lord\'s prayer lord\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s prayer lords prayer lords supper lost love God love your neighbor loved the approval of man rather than God love lowly loyalists luke 10 luke 11 luke 14 luke 17 luke 18 luke 19 luke 21 luke 22 luke 23 luke 24 luke 7 luke23 luke24 luke5 lust lutheran madden magicians magisterial magruder mak 7 malachi 1 malachi 2 malachi 3 man born blind manifestation manipulative marginalized populations mark 10 mark 16 mark 6 mark 8 marriage martyrdom martyr mary magdalene masks matthew 10 matthew 11 matthew 12 matthew 13 matthew 14 matthew 17 matthew 18 matthew 19 matthew 20 matthew 21 matthew 22 matthew 23 matthew 24 matthew 25 matthew 28 matthew 3 matthew 5 matthew 6 matthew 8 matthew 9 matthew28 matthew3 matthew6 means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracle mirrir missionaries missionary modernism money returned money moses mountains mountaintop movement multiply offsprings murder musician my Father my sheep follow me my testimony is true my truth=experience my word finds no place in you mythology myths myth name nathan nations nation natural disaster natures nature negative nehemiah 1 nehemiah 2 nehemiah 4 nehemiah 5 nehemiah 6 nehemiah 7-8 nehemiah 9 neighbor never been enslaved new life new man news nicea no compromise no guests came (Israel) no prophet from Gallee no religious affiliation noah non-masked normal practice not of God not the Christ numbers 21 numbers 22 numbers 23 numbers 24 numbers 35 numbers27 numbers32 obedience obey objective truth=God off the rails offering office of the holy ministry office of the keys offspring of Abraham old Adam old man omans 3 omans 6 one body onesimus only son opportunity to witness opposition orders ordinary ordination organized religion organ orthodox overcome overseer pagan pandemic panmillennialist papacy papyrus parable paralytic paraments parents said man born blind party passive pastoral care pastors pastor patriarch pattern of behavior paul peace peers pentecost people perfection persecute persecution perserve life persons person peter pharisee philemon 8-9 philemon philiipians 3 philippians 1 philippians 4 philosophy phrophet physician pietistic plagues plots of covert groups polarized politics don't determine salvation politics pomises pool poor in spirit poor pope position positive post-Christian postmodern poverty power dynamic power practices praise prayer pray preaching preach precious pregnancy pregnant presence pride prison prizes procrastination prodigal son prodigal professor promised land promises promise prophecy prophets prophet protectors proverbs 10 proverbs 13 proverbs 24 proverbs 25 proverbs 27 proverbs 31 proverbs 3 proverbs 4 proverbs 5 proverbs 8 proverbs 9 proverbs22 provision psalm 122 psalm 130 psalm 13 psalm 20 psalm 25 psalm 28 psalm 2 psalm 48 psalm 51 psalm 54 psalm 68 psalm 74 psalm 84 psalm 86 psalm 92 psalm8 psalm psychologists public punishment punish purification purity pwer/control quarantine question beliefs questions quid pro quo racial racism rags raise temple in 3 days raises the dead ransom rape rapture reality receiving recognition reconcile reconciliation record redeemed reformation refuge rejects standards rejoice relationship relativism religion religious repentance repent rescue resolution response resurrection return money revivalism rewards rich man richard rich righteousness rights riots risen ritual rivers of living waters robe of many colors rock romans 11 romans 9 romans6 routine rubbish rubies rulers rules ruth 1 sacrament of the altar sacrament sacrifice sadness saints saint salt salvation samaritan sanctification satanic satan satis est saul save you saved us saved savesinners save saving scholarships school science scientist scoreboard scripture sea of Capernaum seasons sea second sign seek and find seek to kill me self-esteem selflessness senior sent before him sepulcher seraphim sermon servants servant service sexts sexual immorality sexual orientation sexual shaltanis shame shatlanis sheep knows his voice sheep shepherd shield shrewd sick sight signs simple belief simul justus et peccator simul sin no more singleness sing sinners sinner sins sin slave to sin slavery slaves become enslavers slaves small catechism snowflake social distancing social media amplifies social media solace sola sold into slavery son of Joseph son of Lord sophia sorrow sorry soul speak as the Father has told me speak as the Father taught me speaker sphere spies spirit and truth spiritualists spiritual spiritus gladius spirit sports st. michael star steroids steward strength stress strong student loan stumbling block subjective substance suffering suicide supernatural surreal symbol synagogue systemic racism tabernacle table of duties task-oriented tax collector taxation teaching teach technology temple temptation tertullian tetelestai texts thankful the Christ the Promise the Son of Go may be glorified through it the Twelve the dreamer the truth will set you free theology there will be one flock they cast hi out thief comes to steal and kill this illness doesnot lead to death thomas tic time not fully come time titus 3 titus3 to show the work of God toil tomb tongues touch dead body touching tragedy translator trap trials tribulations trinity triune troops sent to destroy city true woshipers trust Word of God trust in God trustworthy trust truth tweets type A unbelief wrath of God unbelief unbelievers unhelpful unity universalism university unjust steward unwoke vestments victim can be in denial victim victory by the Lamb victory video vineyard tenets (Pharisees) vine virgin virology visit pastor - forgiven visitation vocation voice crying in the wilderness voice from heaven voice von Kram vote waiting war water and Spirit water into wine watermarked water we are disciples of Moses weakness weak wealth wedding at Cana wedding feast wedding wept when lifted up I will draw all peaople to me where sin is ther is abuse who sinned? who sinned whoever believes in me shall live why widow will of my Father will win brother over wisdom wise witness wives woke wolves woman caught in adultery womb women conditioned to be agreeable working toward Christs rerturn working works worldview world worried worry worship worthy yahweh you are not part of my flock your father the devil youth ministry youth zealots zechariah zombie