One familiar phrase we often hear around the Thanksgiving table is “Pass the salt.” Just the right amount of salt will enhance the flavors of the dish already there. Today we see salt just as a condiment, but really not that far back in the past salt was so much more.
Jesus says, we are the salt.
Jesus says something pretty cool, though something that was confusing to me as a youngster. Back when I was a teenager, we were starting to hear about the dangers of salt in regards to high blood pressure and heart disease. About how we should avoid salt to stay healthy. So when I read the following verse, at first glance it didn’t seem like a good thing.
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 underfoot. -Matthew 5:13
So what did Jesus mean when he calls us the salt of the earth? Is that a good thing? Well let’s look at the uses of salt and see what we can come up with.
Salt preserves and stops decay.
One of the most important uses of salt back in Biblical times was for preservation of food. It was so important in fact, that it was often used as a form of currency (the word salary actually comes from this). So how does this reflect what Jesus is saying when he calls us the salt of the earth?
How many of us have had situations at work that a co-worker was telling a joke that was less than wholesome and when they realize you’re in the room, hesitates in telling the punchline? Then the awkward silence ensues. Or how about someone complaining about something and when a curse word comes out of their mouth, they apologize for saying that in front of you?
This has happened a few times to me and while my instinct in the past has been to say “Oh…no problem, don’t worry about it.” I realize now that I should probably embrace that awkwardness that arises in the situation and praise God for it. See I think during those times, we are actually being salt in that situation. Our very presence and knowledge that we are Christ followers, is enough to change behavior. To at least temporarily stop the decay of morality. It makes people often think before they speak, often changing their habits when you around them. The saltiness spreads to things around you and preserves in at least a small temporary fashion a situation that honors God.
Salt adds flavor.
Another, perhaps more obvious use for salt is for the flavor enhancing it does when applied to your food. Just the right amount of salt added can make a meal taste that much better. To much and the food will be too salty, too little and it will be bland.
Our pastor talked about this not too long ago. Let me paraphrase what he said;
If you live your life as that person that is salt in the world. You will add seasoning to your conversations with people, your not going to boring. You’re not going to be a person that has nothing to say about things, you’re not going to be a person that just sits there and nods and says sure with everyone else. You are the seasoning that makes things better. It’s who you are, not just what you say. You love people more, you don’t blame people as fast as everyone else does. You’re not afraid to say something is true, even when it’s hard to say. You bring joy. Don’t settle for being a Christian going to church.
Too little salt and you’ve settled for just being that Christian that goes to church, but isn’t necessarily taking it beyond Sunday morning. Too much salt and you will ruin the taste of the food, you could be that Christian that actually turns people away from the good news by being too much. See a lot of salt, not only preserves as we talked about above, but it can actually kill plants and keep plants from growing. Too much salt could hinder or destroy the growth of another in Christ.
On our journey to Thanksgiving let’s remember to pass the salt and in fact be the salt as God tells us we are.