After we see God celebrate virtues that our secular counterparts would hardly consider virtuous, we have to ask: If God intends for me to suffer, why?
The answer is in the next passage:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Mt 5:13)
Salt is a preservative. Jesus is calling on Christians to preserve the virtues that God finds honorable and good. To that end, when we become a new creation in Christ, God then molds us into the image of his Son (Rom 8:3-4, 12-14, 29-30) — not for our sake, but for the world’s sake:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:14-16)
In other words, don’t just be a Christian on Sunday in church. Be one at work, at rest, at play, in your marriage, on a plane, on a boat, on a train, in your house, when you’re here, or there, and everywhere (1 Cor 10:31).
James, brother of our Lord, echoes the sentiment: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jms 1:27).
Do what God has commanded, and do it boldly. And in the process, do not become like the rest of the world. It’s a simple message, a simple prospect, and it has a powerful world-renewing effect for those who live it out.