The “salt of the earth” teaching conveys a message that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to represent his presence and radiate his impact in human interactions. This capability represents the human value of a person before God, which he expects to be evident in interactions with others: to enhance and preserve the goodness of people, like salt enhances and preserves the goodness of food. Let your Godliness be evident to others and motivate them to appreciate God and seek to interact the same way with other people.
In the “salt of the earth” teaching (Matthew 5:13–16), Christ explains the role of a person in human interactions and conveys a message that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to represent him in interactions with others. Godliness, i.e., the capability to convey the presence of God and radiate his impact in human interactions, is intrinsic to a person as saltiness is intrinsic to salt. Furthermore, every person can implement the capability by harnessing resources that God has provided to guide us in interactions with others. A person’s human value before God arises from the intrinsic capability to represent God in human interactions. Godliness is the intrinsic value of a person in human interactions as saltiness is the intrinsic value of salt in food.
We discuss the “salt of the earth” teaching to understand God’s purpose for every person to make positive impact in human interactions and motivate others to do the same.
The second part of the Beatitudes (third through eighth) identifies four cardinal responsibilities of Living in the Image of God: Humility toward others, compassion (care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others), motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose, and individual responsibility for peace and righteousness. The Beatitudes proclaim God’s promise of blessing for a person that commits to these responsibilities and lives according to the commitment.
In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, referred to as the Beatitudes, Christ proclaims God’s promise of blessing for every person that performs his/her responsibilities of representing God in interactions with others. As we discuss under Resources for Living in the Image of God, the first three Beatitudes describe resources that God provides to guide us whereas the last six (i.e., Beatitudes 3–8) describe the human responsibilities. There are four cardinal responsibilities.
Beatitude 3: Humility toward others.
Beatitudes 4 and 5: Compassion (i.e., care for others and sensitivity to the needs of others).
Beatitude 6: Motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose.
Beatitudes 7 and 8: Individual responsibility for peace and righteousness.
We discuss each of the cardinal responsibilities briefly in this bible study and provide more detailed discussion in future studies.
The Beatitudes describe the responsibility of every person to represent God in interactions with others and resources to empower a person to perform the responsibility. The first three Beatitudes explain how to access the resources: commit to God’s purpose of representing him in human interactions; recognize and accept total dependence on him; seek him in recognition of total dependence; and humble yourself before him that he may provide, guide, and direct your human capabilities to accomplish tasks that he assigns to you. The Holy Spirit will lead you to receive and follow God’s guidance and direction every time in every situation.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ explains every person’s responsibility to represent God in interactions with others. The first part of the sermon, referred to as the Beatitudes, describes the responsibility, God’s promise of blessing for those that perform the responsibility, and resources that he provides to empower every person to perform the responsibility. The first three Beatitudes describe how to access the resources (more detail under Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 2of2). The last six (i.e., Beatitudes 3–8) describe the responsibility in terms of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. This bible study focusses on accessing the resources.
God creates every person to represent him among others. He establishes provider-receiver relationships among people, whereby every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. He expects every person to keep “the way of the Lord” so that he will fulfill his promise. Keeping “the way of the Lord” means “Living in the image of God.”
In this bible study session, we discuss God’s declaration of his purpose for people to understand the implications of being “created in the image of God.” Further, we discuss his explanation of the purpose in a statement to angels regarding Abraham. The information leads to an understanding that God creates every person to represent him among others: to be to other people what God would be to them if he was human like them.
He establishes a network of provider-receiver relationships around every person, which defines human responsibility to others and benefits through others. Every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. Thus, the concept of a provider-receiver network around every person enables an understanding of human responsibilities and benefits in God’s distribution of human service to the points of need. The network is dynamic: God can insert people into a network or withdraw people from the network at any time.
God sees and encourages human work and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary. If your motivation and methods and approach are consistent with Living in the Image of God; then focus on doing what you can humanly do, because your battle belongs to God and he will guide you to victory. We discuss these principles based on Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms. Both ended in miracles. However, he scolded the disciples in one and encouraged them in the other. Differences between the two help us understand human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. Also, we examine David’s motivation and faith in his victory over Goliath. He focused on doing what he humanly could and received a miracle to end the battle.
We conclude our study series on Following God’s Schedule with a discussion of human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. We begin with a discussion of Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms on the sea of Galilee. Both storms ended with a miracle. However, Jesus scolded the disciples regarding their behavior in the first storm but encouraged them in the second storm. We examine the different interactions in relation to the behavior of the disciples during the storms to understand that God encourages human work that is consistent with his purpose; is aware of the human effort; and will provide a miracle as needed based on his consideration.
The study leads to an understanding of the basis for faith as a driver for human effort. If the motivation for your effort is consistent with God’s purpose and you are committed to methods and approach consistent with the principles of Living in the Image of God, then the battle belongs to God (see Following God Schedule by Living in His Image). Therefore, he sees your effort and wants you to succeed. He will determine if you need a miracle and what, when, and how. Therefore, focus on doing what you can humanly do—with faith of God intervening as necessary according to his schedule.
We use this understanding of basis for faith to examine David’s famous victory over Goliath. He was motivated to fight Goliath to remove a “disgrace to Israel” due to Goliath’s defiance and confirm that Israel’s army was the “army of the living God.” He expected victory because the battle belongs to God, focused on fighting as he humanly could, and won victory by a miracle that manifested through his human effort. God sees your effort in human work, wants you to succeed, and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary.
The Sermon on the Mount provides guiding principles (The Beatitudes) and explains the essence of Living in the Image of God. The first three Beatitudes describe commitment to following God’s direction through humility and repentance in order to perform the responsibilities of representing him in human interactions. The third through eighth describe the value of humility, care and sensitivity to the needs of others, motivation for being good, and individual responsibilities in the pursuit of peace and righteousness. Further, Christ explains in the second part of the sermon that God creates every person with an intrinsic capability to be good to others and motivate and preserve their goodness. Similar to the intrinsic quality of salt to enhance and preserve the goodness of food. He expects every person to radiate positive impact in human interactions, similar to a light source radiating light, so that people may benefit and glorify God for each other.
The Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5–7] was Christ’s formal teaching to explain God’s purpose for human interactions. He declared the guiding principles in The Beatitudes; described the essence of God’s purpose for human interactions using the Salt of the Earth imagery; and discussed several examples to explain God’s expectations in interactions among people.
As we discuss previously in Part 1 of this study (Following God Schedule by Living in His Image 1of2), God creates every person to represent him in interactions with others: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and parables, physical examples, and interactions with his disciples and others during his human ministry, Christ provides guiding principles and describes the essence of Living in the Image of God—to fulfill God’s purpose for every person to be his representative (aka ambassador) in interactions with others. Those that live according to the principles will follow God’s Schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the principles will depart from the schedule.
We discuss the Sermon on the Mount to understand Living in the Image of God based on Christ teaching of the guiding principles in The Beatitudes and the essence in the Salt of the Earth teaching.
Every person is created to represent God in interactions among people: to convey his presence and impact as if he was there physically in human form. Those that live according to this purpose will follow God’s schedule and receive fulfillment of his promise. In contrast, those that depart from the purpose will depart from God’s schedule. Examples from David illustrate his approach in interactions with Saul satisfy God’s mandate of keeping “the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” The approach contributed to his success on a path to kingship that lasted over ten years and included transition from Saul, training for David, and preparing Israel to accept David as king. Two encounters with Saul presented opportunities for David that could have been misinterpreted. Saul conceded the kingship to David on both occasions as David’s commitment to “right and just” prevailed over the temptation to clear his way to the kingship by killing Saul. The concession contributed to preparing Israel to accept David as king.
GOD’S AMBASSADOR God creates every person to represent him among others and wants us to fulfill the purpose in interactions among people and between people and other creations. To understand the biblical basis for this statement, we note that God is supernatural, created the universe (including the earth and its inhabitants) to work naturally, and wants to interact seamlessly with the universe and its constituents. Let’s focus on people and the earth. God creates people and other inhabitants of the earth to work naturally and wants to interact seamlessly with them. He can interact with people through the Holy Spirit but the interaction is supernatural and doesn’t fill the need for natural interaction with people.
To understand the importance of working naturally, imagine a person’s bank account suddenly swells with a large amount of money that is not traceable to any natural source. How would other people, including the regulatory authorities, respond to the change? It would be unacceptable to say that God gave the money. That is a supernatural explanation. The natural system requires a natural explanation. As a second example, how would people respond to a full-grown tree appearing suddenly in the middle of a highway? Or a person showing up one day to claim the presidency of a country saying God appointed him/her president? God can do any of these but chooses the natural way to do them.
The natural way requires interactions among people following certain rules and processes while God channels his participation in the interactions through the people. For example, if he wants to provide money to a person, he works with the person and others to provide the money naturally. He works through people in every situation to implement changes naturally to fulfill his purpose. He creates every person to represent him in interactions among people to fulfill his purpose in every situation.
The biblical basis for this understanding is in God’s declaration of his purpose for humans: “Let Us make man in Our image…” [Genesis 1:26], which we paraphrase as: let us create every person to represent God (his presence, desire, approach, methods, sensitivity, compassion, etc.) in interactions among people and between people and other inhabitants of the earth. The paraphrase helps us understand the declaration to mean that God creates every person to be his channel for natural interactions with other people.
We discuss Saul-David interactions in the context of a mentor vs mentee relationship that deteriorates and turns deadly against mentee. David tried containment of the threat initially but later chose avoidance of Saul, established safe distance from him, and moved quickly and frequently to maintain the distance. To implement the avoidance strategy, he setup elaborate network for sending and gathering information to predict Saul’s next move and stay ahead of him. His strategy did not include standing his ground, because he revered Saul as the sitting God-anointed king.
We discuss interactions between Saul and David in the context of a mentor vs mentee relationship that deteriorates and turns deadly against the mentee. Recall from our previous study under When Promising Path Terminates that David thrived as a high-ranking officer and commander in Saul’s army. He showed himself an effective leader and cherished the opportunities of his position as his positive reputation grew rapidly among the people. His service in Saul’s army appeared to define a clear path to kingship.
Saul’s relationship with David could be viewed as mentor vs mentee because David was learning from Saul’s experience as he grew in the service. Saul was the king, supreme commander, and an experienced fighting man when David joined the service. Their relationship started with Saul convincing David’s father Jesse to release David into his service: “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him” [1 Samuel 16:22]. However, after David triumphed over Goliath and led Israel to victory against Philistines, his relationship with Saul deteriorated and evolved later into Saul seeking desperately to kill him, e.g., by hauling the spear at him: “I’ll pin David to the wall” [1 Samuel 18:11]. Therefore, we can consider Saul a mentor to David initially that became less comfortable with his mentee and eventually turned predator against him.
Initially, David apparently believed he could contain the threat. He intended to remain in Saul’s service, loyal to Saul, but vigilant to protect himself from Saul. Containment was adequate initially. He eluded Saul’s spear attack three times. However, the third time was different for two reasons. First, Saul violated an oath to his son Jonathan by throwing the spear at David the third time: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death” [1 Samuel 19:6]. Second, he threw the spear with decisive lethality such that it penetrated into the wall behind David. That night, David decided containment was inadequate and “made good his escape” [1 Samuel 19:10]. David’s strategy against the threat from Saul changed from containment to establishing and maintaining a safe distance from Saul.
The modern-day society presents several possibilities of a mentor vs mentee relationship deteriorating and turning deadly against the mentee. Examples could be found in business, politics, academia, or several other areas of living where a person (the mentee) tries to gain a foothold by learning from or understudying another (the mentor). The mentor often is accommodating initially and could remain so through the relationship. However, if the mentor is unable to accept potential competition from the mentee, the relationship could deteriorate and potentially turn deadly against the mentee. We seek better understanding of the mentee’s options through discussion of the example from David versus Saul after David became aware of Saul’s threat to his life. David survived because of his conduct of the relationship. Saul was determined to kill him and would have if given the opportunity. Similarly, a modern-day mentee faced with a deteriorating mentor-mentee relationship needs to assess the evolving behavior of the mentor and decide whether to contain the threat or pick up and run to save his/her life or career as the case may be.
The biblical account of Adam and Eve conveys an understanding that God created marriage to combine a man and woman into a union of fitting complements, well suited to fulfill the purpose of representing him among all creation. We learn from his judgment of their disobedience that God holds a man and wife in inseparable responsibility to obey him. Both will incur punishment for an act of disobedience. However, he judges them individually when they disobey and assigns each separate responsibility for his or her punishment.
We study the account of Adam and Eve to understand God’s purpose for marriage as a union of fitting complements well suited to fulfill his purpose for human beings. He created Adam first to fill the purpose but decided that Adam alone was inadequate. He declared that Adam needed a comparable helper from within in order to fulfill the responsibilities of representing God among other creations. Therefore, he created Eve as Adam’s comparable helper so the two together will be adequate to fulfill God’s purpose for humans.
The creation account includes their initial life in the Garden of Eden, disobedience to God in eating from the forbidden, and punishment and removal from the initial “Garden of Eden” environment to the current life that we know. He pronounced a specific punishment for each after they disobeyed him. We learn from his judgment of their disobedience that God holds a man and wife in inseparable responsibility to obey him. Both will incur punishment for an act of disobedience. However, he judges them individually when they disobey and assigns each separate responsibility for his or her punishment.
We discuss the account of creation to understand the broad but clear statement of God’s purpose for people, he created Adam to fill the purpose, and later created Eve as a fitting complement for Adam because he found Adam inadequate alone to fulfill the purpose. Further, we discuss the disobedience and punishment to understand he held them jointly and inseparably responsible for obedience but punished them individually so each can manage his or her punishment separately.
Having received God’s promise of a positive end to his persecution, Paul persevered through subsequent trials and presented his case diligently while showing respect for others, authority, and due process. His interactions during the period reinforce our understanding that faith of God’s intervention motivates human effort and should encourage us to have patience and work diligently while relating to others in accordance with our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation.
Our study series on Responding to Adversity continues with a discussion of Paul’s response to events in Jerusalem and Caesarea following Christ’s promise that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome. The events began with a conspiracy in Jerusalem against Paul’s life, his transfer to the governor’s custody in Caesarea, and subsequent trials before the governor. Paul persevered through the events with patience and showed respect for authority and due process through his interactions with Roman commander Claudius Lysias, Governor Felix, and Jewish representatives constituted to make a case against him in Caesarea. He responded to relentless persecution by defending himself diligently while respectful of other persons, authority, and due process (i.e., in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation).
Paul’s interactions in these events convey a special meaning because he had received a promise from God that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” [Acts 23:11]. His interactions following the promise show a motivation to do what he could to defend himself against his accusers, convince relevant authority that he did nothing wrong, and do these while showing respect for authority and due process. His actions provide a message that faith of God’s intervention motivates perseverance and diligence. That is, the promise of God’s intervention should make a person evaluate every situation to determine what needs to be done and apply best effort toward doing it, because God may often fulfill his promise through what we do.
As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, God provides input to solving our problems but expects us to apply human effort in order to be prepared and positioned to accept his input. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to seek solutions by doing what we can with faith of God intervening at his chosen time and in his chosen way.
Paul received God’s promise that his persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome, but did not know how or when he would go to Rome. However, he knew he had a promise from God and will get to its fulfillment by applying his human effort and relating to people with humility and respect.
Therefore, he persevered through the crisis, worked diligently through the trials, and did so while respectful of others in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Also, we have encountered similar response in adversity through previous bible studies such as under Living to Receive God’s Intervention and Mordecai Triumphs Over Adversity. Each of the examples illustrate a person persevering through adversity by working diligently to resolve problems, relating to others in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God, and arriving at a glorious fulfillment of God’s promise.
We discuss the relentless persecution of Paul and his interactions with the authorities and his accusers during the period following his encounter with Christ while in detention in Jerusalem.