My morning prayer-walk often takes me past a tree and an obscured sign. I looked at it more closely today. It is something about not cycling or motorcycling on the common. The ivy has grown over it so that the exact instructions are hard to read. The sight reminded me of when Jesus warned his followers,

“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.” (Matthew 5:13 NIV)

And right after this he says,

“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.” (Matthew 5:14–16 NIV)

Lights can be lit. They can be bright. But if stuffed out of sight they are useless. A salt-cellar dispenses salt that enhances the flavour of food. But only if upended and its contents shaken over my dinner. If the salt gets damp (as our did recently by being stored in a cupboard next to where the kettle boils) it becomes useless.

A Christian is a regularly soul-searcher. We are keen to not obscure the message of Jesus. Sometimes it is our conscience that bugs us into seeing the ivy climbing over our witness. At other times it might be the preached Word of God, or a loving word of truth from a friend. In whatever way we get to see the true state of our saltiness or lighted-ness, we are responsible for cutting off the ivy of obscuration. Take a moment today to clean your ‘sign’.

Harrow Weald council have neglected their responsibility with the sign on the tree, but that’s OK. No one will die as a result. The consequences of us not paying attention to the clarity of our witness are far more serious.