Standing Out in a Sea of Green
“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:15-16
Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. The Boston Red Sox have been playing their home games at Fenway Park since 1912. Besides Fenway and Wrigley Field in Chicago, all other MLB ballparks opened after the year of 1962, putting Fenway and Wrigley in a class all their own.
You’ll find many unique quirks at Fenway Park, including a 37-foot high left field wall nicknamed the “Green Monster.” A lesser-known oddity of the 111-year-old venue is the single red seat in the right field bleachers. Although it’s hard to spot the single red seat when the stands are filled with Red Sox fans, it stands out like a sore thumb when the stadium is empty. This seat marks the location where Fenway’s longest-recorded home run (a 502-foot bomb hit by Ted Williams on June 9th, 1946) landed and struck an unassuming fan on the head.
As Christians, we’re called to stand out like a single red seat in a sea of green. Jesus’ message throughout the Gospels is highly counter-intuitive, going against the grain of what his original audience had long been taught to believe. Whether it’s promising blessings for the poor and marginalized or elevating the peacemakers and the persecuted, Jesus’ words are challenging because they challenge our traditional manner of thinking.
Jesus sets this standard in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and continues to uphold it with his next movement. He tells his disciples that they are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Both metaphors convey a sense of distinction, a call to stand out in a world where it was easier to fall in line with the conventional manner of thinking. In the ancient world, salt had multiple uses. You could add a pinch of salt to enhance flavor like I often do with my Chick-fil-A waffle fries, but it was also an effective preservative for protecting various types of meat from collecting bacteria.
When Jesus tells his disciples that they are the “salt of the earth,” he is, at the same time, calling them to stand out in faith and challenging them to be the preservative that prevents contaminating bacteria from growing in the world. Jesus charges his disciples with bringing the protective energy that makes the world last.
Truth be told, today’s world isn’t much different, but the call remains the same. How can we, as followers of Christ, swim against the current? How can we stand out, like a city on a hill, as we pursue righteousness and obedience? The amazing thing about light is that it’s hard to hide: even a single candle in an otherwise dark room will have a massive impact on the entire space. We carry the same power and potential as followers of Christ. When we take seriously our call to be salt and light, we’ll stand out more than Fenway’s lone red seat in the right field bleachers.
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7