I’m not going to lie.
I like salt.
Some people crave sweets snacks. I crave salty snacks. I’d rather have a salty chip than the finest Swiss chocolate any day of the week.
I keep hearing warnings (yes, they are legitimate) about salt intake and its effect on blood pressure. Imagine my ecstasy when I’m seated for my annual physical or pre-blood donation evaluation and the blood pressure cuff releases its serpentine hold with an ominous hissssss and the meter reads:
Pass the salt, please!
So when I came across Jesus teaching on salt, it caught my attention and I did a little research. Jesus was amazing how he could take a common, simple little thing like salt and drop a huge object lesson on His disciples. Check this out.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men” (Matthew 5:13).
When you study the object of the lesson, you get the point. So, let’s go!
What is salt? It’s a colorless or white crystalline solid, chiefly sodium chloride. Salt is nearly everywhere.
And “here’s a little-known fact, Normy.” There is enough salt in the oceans of the world we could sculpt a full-scale topographic map of Europe – five times over! There’s so much salt on earth, we will NEVER run out.
In fact, since a human being is mostly water, we have a virtual “salt-sea” within us. Our blood has the same chemical balance of sodium, potassium, and calcium found in the oceans. Because of this, the average human being absolutely needs salt to live.
Salt has wonderful properties! If you’re a salt-o-phile, check out the Salt Institute
As a seasoning, salt has a unique flavor and makes bland food more enjoyable.
Salt is a purifying and preserving agent. Salted meats can be kept without refrigeration. Salt was spread on land by invading kingdoms to stop plants from growing and the enemy from resettling. Salt was rubbed on a newborn baby to clean its skin after birth, killing bacteria and preventing infection.
Salt is essential for life. Our bodies need salt to perform a variety of critical functions. Salt maintains fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information within our nerves and muscles. It’s also used to take in certain nutrients during digestion.
And here’s the kicker. Our bodies can’t make salt! We must rely on an outside source to make sure that we get the required amount. (Source)
Finally, salt’s side-effect is it creates thirst.
Now with all this info in mind, how does it apply to Jesus’ disciple being the “salt of the earth?”
Jesus’s disciples should be “seasoning.” As salt makes food more enjoyable, so righteous people make life more enjoyable. Wickedness brings grief, righteousness brings joy. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, people groan.” As Jesus’ disciples, we should be adding joy to the world around us.
Jesus’ disciples should be purifying and preserving agents. As salt stops corruption inside and out, so Jesus’ standards of goodness and righteousness in action slow and even stop evil in our society from progressing. Since evil spreads corruption through society, so righteous standards must be in place to oppose and fight evil and corruption.
Jesus’ disciples are essential for societal life. Does the world need righteousness to keep functioning well? YES! A quick look at history clearly shows what happens when a society abandons God. It ultimately decays, ending in total collapse and self-destruction. Since our fallen world can’t “make salt,” make God’s righteousness, Jesus is the outside agent who sends His salt, His disciples, into the world to make life enjoyable through goodness, and preserve it from decay and death. Imagine the nightmare of a world without God’s influence as in Noah’s day. “The Lord saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time… Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth.” (Genesis 6:5, 11-12). That didn’t end well.
Salt creates thirst in people. A godly life usually draws people toward God. Faith in Jesus is better caught than taught. People often NEED a taste of God’s goodness through the example of righteous living to see what they’re missing. When people like what they taste, they come back for more!
Okay, so what’s this “But if the salt should lose its taste” thing?
Sodium Chloride is sodium chloride. Salt is salt. Salt can’t lose its flavor unless certain things happen to it.
Something is added in. In Jesus’ day, where did people get salt? From evaporated saltwater or mines. Salt from the Dead Sea could lose its flavor if it picked up the alkaline taste of other minerals. So, adding other elements can CHANGE salt’s taste. Also, a chemical additive can react with the sodium-chloride bond to break and neutralize it.
Or something is removed. In Jesus’ day, salt was rarely found in a pure state and often had impurities like sand in it. If the salt was leached out through moisture, the remaining “salt” (read sand) would lose its taste.
Whether adding or subtracting, the salt loses its taste, and its effect grows weak.
Disciple, losing your saltiness is to lose your spiritual impact on the world! Rather than being beneficial and effective, you’re just sand in the world’s teeth and you become worthless to Jesus’ work in the world.
What does Jesus say about worthless salt? Oh yeah. “Dump it in the street.” If we lose our distinctiveness from the world, either by taking on the worldly impurities of this life or by losing the Lord’s presence, power, and word in our lives, we’re ineffective and rendered virtually worthless to the Kingdom, fit only to be tossed out the door. Yes, it’s a warning, dear disciple.
You may be a bit scared now. Good.
So how do we stay salty? Reverse what makes us unsalty. Leach out the world’s influence and increase God’s influence in our lives. Simple.
As disciples, we have a critical function. If we fail to live it, we might as well not exist for all the good we do! “Bland Christian” is an oxymoron, as is “lukewarm disciple.” Both make Jesus want to vomit! We should BE the verse, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
And when Jesus says, “Pass the salt,” He means it.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts