I've heard people say things to the effect of "Well, Jesus said we are the salt of the earth so that means we just are! Whatever Jesus said, I believe, 'cause Jesus never lied!"
Yes, I know that Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth and that we are the light of the world. Yet, I know He didn't say "are" in bold italics. He used the word as a simple little verb. I also know that Jesus knew how to use language. When He spoke in parables, He didn't first qualify and say,"Just so you are all clear on this, and to be sure that no one thinks I am lying, I want to give you this disclaimer and tell you that what I am about to say is fiction, and that any resemblance to anyone living or dead is completely unintended." Jesus simply and without to-do began his stories saying "A farmer went out to sow his seed." And"There was a man who had two sons." And "There was a landowner who planted a vineyard." Jesus accepted that His listeners had enough intelligence to understand that which was given to be understood.
Not everything is meant to be taken literally in the Bible. Sometimes, it is noted that what we read are signs and symbols, and even then, we have Christians that interpret literally.
I don't think that the New Jerusalem is really going to be a shaped like an enormous cube. With the explanation that the New Jerusalem in symbolic of the Church of Jesus, I assume that the cube thing is symbolic too. I think that the 'mansions within my father's house' could very well be Jesus letting us know that heaven will be rich and very nice, rather than meaning that we are going to live in a lot of fancy houses built inside another house. I betcha it isn't exactly one thousand hills that God owns cattle on. I'm not sure if heaven's streets are going to be paved with gold. I keep wondering, "If there is so much gold there, the gold would be about as special as dirt, so we'd get tired of it and want to have something more 'specialer'. Maybe then, in heaven, we'd hope there is something that is as special to heaven's gold as gold on earth is in comparison to dirt on earth.
If you aren't catching my drift, lick the back of your hand. -Probably hardly tastes salty. Certainly not enough for you to be considered the salt of the earth. And unless you have a halo, you are not a lamp, so you should consider symbolism rather than literalism.
Jack, John, and Tim: I welcome your comments.