Dr. Evan Kane was the chief surgeon of Kane Summit Hospital in New York City. He had practiced his specialty for 37 years. Over the course of time he came to question the wisdom of using general anesthesia for every surgery.
He believed people would recover quicker if they only had local anesthesia. Yet, no matter how convinced Dr. Kane was about his theory, he had one problem. No one wanted to go under his knife while they were awake. Everyone he talked to had the same fear. They did not want to feel the pain of the scalpel while they were awake during the surgery. After much searching, Kane finally found a willing subject. It helped that it was a relatively common procedure. According to Dr. Kane’s own records, during his practice he had performed around 4,000 appendectomies, so the procedure was almost second nature to him.
The patient was prepped and brought into the operating room. The local anesthesia was carefully administered. As he had always done, he cut into the right side of the abdomen and entered the body cavity. He tied off the blood vessels, found the appendix, excised it, and finished by sewing the incision back up. To his own credit, he proved himself right. Throughout the surgery the patient felt very little discomfort. In fact, the patient was up and about the next afternoon, which was remarkable since this was back in 1921.
Back then when people had appendectomies they stayed in the hospital from 6 to 8 days. It was a milestone in the world of medicine. However what made it particularly noteworthy was that the patient and the doctor were the same person. Dr. Kane operated on himself.
That’s what I’m going to ask of you today. What I want you to do is something like “spiritual exploratory surgery.” I want you to root around a bit in your soul, take a hard and honest look at your spiritual health, and to see if your faith is as healthy as it should be.
Our Gospel reading this morning from Matthew is near the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount. In this message, Jesus said things like “turn the other cheek”; love and forgive your enemies; and be a godly influence in the place that you live. Those are tough actions. And Jesus clearly expects the world to be transformed by our presence.
Hear Jesus words to us: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” This might be a little difficult to understand. There is no such thing as “unsalty salt.” If you pour the granules out of your saltshaker and it’s not salty, somebody played a trick on you because pure salt does not go bad. Sodium Chloride, table salt like Mortons that you buy at the store is pure. But the Morton Salt Co. did not exist back in the first century.
When they mined salt from the quarry or pit it was never completely pure. Occasionally the salt they gathered was so impure that it was not very salty at all. When that happened they would cast it out the door to harden the pathway that led to their home.
What Jesus is saying in these verses is that if we as His followers are going to change the world we have to be pure salt, we have to be the real deal. Our lives cannot be a mixture of impurities. We have to be un-compromised, pure, and authentic.
That is the word I want you to remember. When Jesus says: “You are the salt of the earth.” Jesus is saying “Be Authentic.” One thing that has limited the influence Christians have on the world; is that many who claim to follow the Christ are not authentic. An inconsistent lifestyle repels people from God.
Our life needs to portray grace. Our life our actions may be the only Scriptures that others will ever encounter.
So, how authentic is your walk? Are the people around you drawn to faith by your life? Do people who cross your path recognize that there is a difference in the way you live?
In the letter to the Galatians Paul informs us what a life looks like when the Holy Spirit is active: “You will be filled with love; you will be filled with joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control”.
Do the people you work with, your family members, your neighbors your friends see the “fruit of the Spirit,” growing in your life? Are you the real deal, or is there so much impurity mixed in with your faith that it is not good for anything?
The key is being authentic; the key is being real, not trying to appear perfect. Nobody likes a phony, and if you think you are fooling everybody, than the only person you are probably fooling is yourself. You are just wearing a mask.
In ancient Greece they had great theatrical events, plays, in large amphitheaters. They did not have microphones to make their voices heard, and they didn’t have cameras to magnify their images, so they invented a system.
They developed large masks. The masks made them look like the characters they portrayed. Built into the masks were megaphones to amplify their voices. The actors on stage, got behind their masks and they became somebody else, someone different than they really were.
These actors were called the “hypocrites.” There are many people whose lives are nothing more then a big act. They play the same role today. They too are the “Hypocrites.”
You see, God wants to change us, but not superficially. He calls us to be conformed to the image of His Son. He does not want to just change the way we look. He wants to clean us up from the very core of our being.
Jesus calls us to be people of influence. To do it we must be authentic – changed us from the inside out. Jesus followers are to be the good news before they share the good news.”
A Peanuts cartoon, showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, “Guess what, Chuck. The first day of school and I got sent to the principals office. It was your fault, Chuck.” He said, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything’s my fault?” She said, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me.”
While Peppermint Patty was seeking to pass the buck, she was in a very real sense right. We certainly do have an influence, all be it for good or for bad.
Salt is a seasoning, a preservative, but unless it is brought into contact with another object its influence is wasted!
But when it is rubbed onto and into meat, or added to food it becomes what it was intended for influencing the flavor!
Salt that just sits in the shaker is of no use. Is your salt sitting on the shelf or are you in contact with and bringing flavor to those that God has sent you?