Read an Excerpt
S E S S I O N 1 R E A C H I N G O U T
T H E B I G P I C T U R E
The metaphors of salt and light are two of the most frequently used pictures in Scripture that describe what Christians ought to be. In Matthew 5:13--16, we find the most wellknown passage on this topic. Here Jesus clearly calls His followers to let their lights shine and to let their lives be salty.
The verses preceding Jesus' words about light and salt are called the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:1--12, Jesus looks at His followers and says, 'I want to describe to you how you ought to behave and what your attitudes ought to be in the family.'
And then He speaks these famous words: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' In other words, Jesus wants His family members to walk in humility---in deep awareness of their need for grace.
Think about the words Jesus then speaks to His followers. He says, 'I hope you act poor in spirit toward each other. I hope you have the ability to mourn over sin and sadness. I hope you can meet each other at the points of pain and brokenness in the family. I hope there's a gentleness and a kindness that sweeps through your community of faith. And I hope there is a hunger and a thirst for righteousness among My people. I
hope there is a pureness of heart. I hope there are peacemakers in the family who take reconciliation seriously. I hope there is courage to withstand trials and persecution for My sake.' He continues, 'My people should relate to Me and to each other in distinctively Spirit-anointed ways. There are certain things that should mark the relationships of those who are part of My family.'
Right after all these words of encouragement for believers,
Jesus adds, 'Now, I am also terribly concerned about people outside the family. Lost people matter to Me, and I am deeply concerned about how you relate to them.' Think about that.
Jesus is saying that the most persuasive and compelling argument for salvation He can present to an outsider is a close-up view of the transformed life of one of His insiders. Nothing packs a punch like a genuinely transformed life. At this point,
Jesus gives us the two famous metaphors: 'My children, each and every one of you should see yourselves as salt and light to people outside the family.'
A W I D E A N G L E V I E W
1. What qualities or characteristics of salt are valuable and helpful?
What qualities or characteristics of light are valuable and helpful?
A B I B L I C A L P O R T R A I T
2. What parallels do you see between both light and salt and your role as an evangelist in the world?
How are you to be like light?
How are you to be like salt?
R P E N I N G T H E F O C U S
Read Snapshot 'An Equation for Evangelism:
(HP + CP + CC = MI)'
3. What can you do to increase your potency as a
4 What can you do to increase your proximity to seekers in the course of a regular week?
5 How would you evaluate your life in light of this equation?
How would you evaluate the lives of your church members in light of this equation?
AN EQUATION FOR EVANGELISM: (HP + CP + CC = MI)
Let's break with mathematic tradition and start by talking about the answer to this equation. What does MI mean? It means maximum impact. There is no mystery about the fact that Christ longed for
His followers to have maximum impact on people outside the family. The end result of effective evangelism is maximum influence on those who are seeking spiritual truth.
Now let's look at the front end of the formula. What might HP plus CP plus CC mean in relation to our being salt and light? HP stands for high potency, CP stands for close proximity, and CC stands for clear communication. What begins to emerge from this text in Matthew is Jesus' concern about the impact our lives should make on others. In order for maximum impact (MI) to happen, something with a lot of power (HP) must get real close (CP) to something that needs to be influenced. However, in addition to being within proximity (CP), we must also communicate (CC) the message of God's love. See the formula shaping up? Jesus said someone with high potency (HP) has to be willing to get into close proximity (CP) to someone else and clearly communicate (CC) the message of Jesus if maximum influence
(MI) is going to happen. Jesus chose the metaphors of salt and light because they both follow this same formula.
6. If followers of Christ are going to have a potency level high enough to impact seekers, there are some specific qualities that will need to be in their lives. Why is each of the characteristics listed below essential in the lives of fully devoted followers of Christ if they are to have maximum impact with the Gospel?
* Spiritual confidence
* An authentic faith
* An urgency about the Gospel
Read Snapshot 'Spiritual Disciplines'
Where do spiritually salty Christians get their confidence, sincerity, and sense of urgency? Where do they learn to shine so brightly? I wish I could give you a spine-tingling, bungy-jumping kind of answer, but it's actually pretty simple. They get it from the age-old, daily, personal, spiritual disciplines that have made believers salty for a couple of thousand years.
When the spotlights aren't on them . . . when they're not at church . . . when no one is looking, these salty Christians are thinking about Christ. They each have a holy place where they meet with Christ, where they open their Bibles and just let the Word of God speak to them. They pray more than other people pray, because they know the power of prayer.
They have close relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ who help them negotiate life and faith. They use their spiritual gifts, and they're out sharing their faith when no one is looking. They're not grandstanding; they're just conveying
Christ. In the middle of all this, God meets them and adds a little bit to the savoriness of their lives. And as they live in the presence of God, they begin to shine a little more brightly.
7. Why is strength in the spiritual disciplines mandatory for high potency?
8. How are you doing in practicing daily spiritual disciplines at this time in your life?
9. What specific spiritual discipline(s) do you need to develop in your life at this time?
What is one way your group members can help you grow in this spiritual discipline?
P U T T I N G Y O U R S E L F I N T H E P I C T U R E
MAKING AN IMPACT LIST
Take time this week to make a list of three people with whom you are in close proximity. It is important to build relationships and friendships with people without strings attached, to be willing to love them no matter how they respond to Jesus.
The fact that they matter to God and matter to you should be enough.