Facebook pixel Light, Salt, and Truth | President's Report 2023 | Pepperdine University Skip to main content
Pepperdine University
message cover

Light, Salt, and Truth

In the fifth chapter of Matthew, verse 14 reads, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden.” But just before these powerful and life-giving lines, Jesus asserts a phrase just as paradigmatic: “You are the salt of the earth.” In this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount, the verse tells us the importance of letting the light of the gospel and the light of the Lord’s words shine in and through our lives so we may radiate his truth. It also implores us to use our God-given “flavor” to enhance and magnify the grace of God via our essential ingredient: our faith. And while salt and light take center stage in this excerpt, the heart of the sermon remains focused on spreading truth: the sacrificial goodness, righteousness, and teachings of Christ.


"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can not be hidden."

—Matthew 15:14

Students Reading

One of Jesus’ longest and most popular sermons, the Sermon on the Mount utilizes two fundamental and vital elements that illuminate and preserve life on earth. Like salt and light, God’s people are called to reveal and enhance God’s truth to enlighten the world with their faithfulness. As disciples of Christ, we are called not only to be devoted, but also to demonstrate Jesus’ example throughout the days of our lives. Truth, then, is the unifying, absolute, and unchanging force that binds individuals together in a shared understanding of God’s will and purpose.

As we engage in research, dialogue, and the pursuit of truth, we must be the light that guides, inspires, and transforms; the bearers of the divine message of righteousness and goodness; and the salt that enhances and preserves the essential qualities that make Pepperdine a beacon of intellectual and ethical distinction. Just as truth illuminates and salt preserves, the Pepperdine community has the responsibility to safeguard our core values of integrity, respect, and excellence, the bedrock upon which we stand. Likewise, the metaphor of light encourages us to be lamps of hope, knowledge, and truth so that our collective commitment to learning, service, and faith can brighten the path for others. At Pepperdine, students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to be the salt and the light and to “call the nations” (Isaiah 55:5) to the table of the kingdom of God with their steadfastness. Members of the Pepperdine family are not merely participants in an educational institution; we are entrusted with a greater purpose, one that underscores the transformative and positive impact that followers of Christ are called to have on the world.