A woman was checking out at the grocery store one morning. The young cashier handed her the receipt and said cheerily, “Have a nice day!” To which the woman replied, “I’m sorry, but I have other plans.”
Maybe she did have other plans, or maybe she just didn’t appreciate being told what to do by someone she didn’t even know.
“Have a nice day” is not the sort of thing Jesus ever said to anyone when leaving them or when they were leaving him. He said things like, “Go and sin no more,” or “Rise, take up your bed and walk,” and “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .”
In these verses (Matthew 5:13-16), he is saying, “Go, be salt and light.” Of course, lots of people, then and now, respond with, “Sorry, I have other plans.”
Who likes to be told who to be and what to do by someone they don’t even know?
Especially when it seems to come out of the blue. That’s how this salt and light nametag seems on first reading. Like suddenly being handed a nametag and a job description without ever having applied for the position.
On first reading, this reminds me of the time I was attending a community-wide benefit banquet. Its purpose was to explore the causes of local poverty, help fund future efforts, and celebrate the contributions of key leaders during the past year. The organizer got up and welcomed us all and announced how happy he was that Rev. Jones, who happened to be sitting across from me, had agreed to be our keynote speaker for the evening. Judging from the shocked look on Rev. Jones’ face, this was news to him. Either he’d forgotten he’d been asked, or the organizer had forgotten to ask him. He began scribbling notes on his napkin and, by the time the fudge cake and coffee had been served, he was ready with a credible, even eloquent speech. A little pressure can work wonders.