Read Matthew 5:13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NRSV)
I don’t think many of us will have a hard time understanding the importance of salt. It heals, it transforms, it purifies, it cleanses, it adds flavor, it preserves. There are so many important functions that salt carries out that it is hard to imagine life without it. There is nothing worse than a dish that does not have enough salt in it. Conversely, there is nothing worse than a dish that has too much salt in it.
In Matthew, Jesus transitions from his blessings, his beatitudes to the poor and downtrodden, by proclaiming that “you are the salt of the earth.” For Jesus, the “you” he is addressing are his disciples. They are the ones who have been following him and he has seasoned them with his teachings. It is through them that they have become like refined salt, ready to season the world.
What’s also important to note here is that, in Matthew, Jesus does not utilize “earth” or “world” in the same dualistic way that we find in the Gospel of Mark. The earth is not Satan’s domain, it is not evil, it is not something that Jesus speaks disparagingly against at all; rather, the earth is God’s creation and it is the field in which the disciples are called to operate out God’s mission. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad actors in the world and the earth can be a tricky place to serve God; however, the Jesus is not AGAINST the world, even though some in the world may be against Jesus.
Jesus goes on to say, “But if the salt loses its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?” Of course, this is a warning to his disciples. To continue with the metaphor, it’s not that Jesus is concerned that the salt will some how be chemically changed into something that is not salt. Not at all. Rather, it is that he is concerned that the salt will get contaminated with so many different things that its flavor will not be able to be tasted among all of the other things in it.
Think about it for a moment. If you take a ¼ teaspoon of salt and throw it into your mouth, you will no doubt taste its saltiness. However, if you throw that into 3 ½ cups of flour, 2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons agave nectar, 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce, and some dry yeast, you might have an excellent low-sodium bread…but the saltiness of that ¼ teaspoon of salt will be lost among all of the other ingredients.
Jesus is warning his disciples that, if they are going to remain effective in their discipleship, they need to make sure that their saltiness is not contaminated by other ingredients. As they will find out, there is an ultimatum being presented to them. Either they are all-in when it comes to following Jesus, or they are not. Anything less than full commitment was not acceptable. This may sound harsh in our 21st century a la carte lifestyles; however, as Jesus appropriately says elsewhere in this very sermon, “You cannot serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24).
To lose saltiness is to become like the Pharisees and the Sadducees who, while once servants of God, had become so entangled in politics, power, and status that they lost their saltiness. The result: God passed them by. “But if salt loses its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (vs. 13) The disciples are being warned not to deny their mission or they will end up like those who did.
The question for us is this, where are we in our saltiness? Are we pure salt, ready to season the world with the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Are we ready to season it with hope, healing, and wholeness? Are we ready to season it with love, peace, compassion, respect, dignity, and presence? Or are we so caught up in other things, so caught up in our comfort and our lifestyles, that we have lost our saltiness? Reflect on this and make honest adjustments so that you may truly be the salt of the earth.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“We’ve made elevator music of Jesus Christ. We’ve made Him the most boring, bland, blah person; and He was the most revolutionary man.” – John Eldredge
Lord, help me to discover my saltiness that I may faithfully season the world for Jesus Christ. Amen.