If you were to describe your city, environment, or world, what words would you choose? In Matthew 5, Jesus described the world using several metaphors for us, His people:
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 (vv. 13-16).
Two thousand years ago, salt was primarily used to stop the decay of meat. So for Jesus to say that we're the salt of the earth implies that the world is corrupt and rotting, like meat that's been left out for too long. He also said, "You are the light of the world," which implies that the world is dark.
But, like salt, we're to add flavor to the world. Sometimes food can be dull and tasteless, but if you sprinkle on a little bit of salt, it brings out the flavor. In the same way, this world is flat and dull, but you're to add flavor to it. Your life ought to be something that attracts people to the Lord because you're bringing out the real flavor in the Christian life.
Something else about salt: if it's doing its job, it creates thirst. This world is already spiritually dehydrated. We should come along and create a thirst in people to want to know God and live the kind of life we profess.
To sum it up, we're to live differently from the world and be noticed by the world. As Jesus said, "A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." But this means we have a responsibility. Jesus said that salt must keep its flavor, otherwise it's not good for much. As salt and light, we are to create a thirst in people and then help lead them out of darkness.
This is why we are needed in this world; we are here on earth for an important mission. When Jesus said, "You are salt and light," it would be better translated from the Greek as "You and you alone are the salt of the earth and the light of the world." In other words, no one else in this world has what we have. No one else in this world can do what we can do. If people don't see Christ through our lives, then guess what? They won't see Christ.
As kingdom dwellers, we're to live differently than the world. We're to be countercultural. At the same time, we are needed ambassadors of Christ to the world. That means being an influence as salt and light. Is that how you're living your life today?