BEARING WITNESS . . . By using up everything we are and have

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. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Reference: Matthew 5:13-16 )

Excuse me while I hum a few bars from “Godspell.” I was then going to suggest that we look at this verse from the historic Anabaptist perspective, but the excerpt paired with it (writings from Andreas Ehrenpreis) concerns the larger context of the gospel of Matthew instead of the specific verses cited here. One germane thing that Ehrenpreis said is “No, those who want to be a light in the world must give themselves and, in giving light to others are themselves consumed, Matt. 5:14-16.” The editors of the book Reading the Anabaptist Bible give emphasis to this when they say, “To bear witness is to give of oneself, even to the point of being consumed in the process.” Now, in a sort of quasi-metaphor way this fits. Salt being so used up it loses its saltiness, and so it needs to be thrown out. A light on a hill or in the household being used until it is burned out. And shining before the world until your life has come to an end. In bearing witness we bring everything we have and use up everything we’ve got . . . actually in the same way we are to love the Lord with all of our mind, body, and strength.

And this would be analogous to a may fly or some other portion of creation that does not last long EXCEPT God can renew us! When we think we have used up everything within us, God renews us – maybe through others ministering to us, or circumstances having us being placed on the sidelines, or our seeing our exhaustion and stepping back, or through direct intervention of God. Now, Ehrenpreis may have the notion of being consumed because the historic Anabaptists were “taken out” almost as quickly as they came to faith. But we know that believers can live their whole lives (that is, from young adulthood until extreme old age) without being subject to torture, persecution, and death. And in order to do that, there must be renewal of faith and energy. Christ himself took time away to pray and communion with God, and that is a good example to us. We may feel “burned out” and consumed, but God can re-lit us from within and redeem our “saltiness” so that we can continue on bearing witness through good deeds and bringing praise to the Lord in heaven.

May you beloved bear witness all of your days in full shining strength. Selah!