Be Salty For God's Sake
Salt is essential to human life. It is the only trace mineral that’s found in every cell in the human body. Without it, this organism would cease to function. If you don’t get enough salt, your body’s electrolytes may become unbalanced; increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. But too much can be toxic, or give you high blood pressure. Salt is good as long as it does what it’s supposed to do.
Salt was once a form of wealth. Wars were fought over it. During Roman times, a portion of a soldier’s salary was paid in… salt. It’s where we got the expression “He’s worth his salt.” And today salt is still used fight infections, as well as to preserve food. Thus, it is kind of important – to us and to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus frequently talks about salt to teach his followers what it means to be a true disciple. I can’t help but think about the 12 vials of salt that sit in our salt rack on our kitchen wall when I read today’s text. “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?”
It never dawned on me that all our salts could stop being salty. It makes me wonder what if all their distinct flavors became indistinct? Or what if they just somehow ceased to be salt? What good would they be? What worthy would they have?
Jesus is always concerned with faithful discipleship. He wants to know if we are “worth our salt.” In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples to be the salt of the earth – a figure of speech that indicates that someone is dependable, decent, and trustworthy.
And in Mark’s gospel today he says “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Jesus wants us to follow him. But more importantly he wants disciples that he can depend on. People who can be kind and gentle, and be trusted to share the good news of God’s redeeming grace and love.
If you were watching last week, you might recall the disciples tried to score points with Jesus for stopping someone who was healing and casting out demons in Jesus’ name. But instead of a pat on the back, Jesus warns his disciples to worry more about themselves, and to look at what they are doing for the Kingdom of God. Are they being the kind of people who seeks reconciliation rather than division?
Good salt has the distinct flavor of Christ that enhances our relationships and builds up communities, not diminishes or divides them. Salt is good as long as it does what it’s supposed to do.
A couple of years ago I ate at a restaurant called, Salt. As the name suggests, each item on the menu was pared with a particular kind of salt that they had gathered from all over the world. There were at least a hundred varieties to choose from. Each one had a distinct purpose – to enhance the flavor of whatever you were eating.
In the same way, there are all different kinds of Christians – from fine to flakey – yet we all have a distinct, common purpose. That is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ – to shake out the message of redemption and salvation over al of life so people can get a taste of what Jesus can do to transform them and their communities.
How do we get the salt of Jesus in our lives? By welcoming Jesus into our lives, and following his ways to God’s righteousness. One way to do this is by being in a community like ours, a gathered group of believers who make up the body of Christ, or the Church. We are inheritors of Jesus’ salt.
This body stays salty by feasting on the Word of God. Because a daily dose of God’s word can keep you balanced in an imbalanced world.
Why is this important? Because in Luke’s gospel Jesus said unsalty salt is not fit for a manure pile; it is thrown out. If we say we follow Jesus but don’t really do what we’re supposed to do, then what good are we for the Kingdom of God?
Again, Jesus says some weird things. And this only makes sense if you knew that back then they cooked over open fires fueled by dried manure. By adding salt to the pile, there would be a chemical reaction that made the fire to burn longer, hotter and brighter. Perhaps Jesus is saying that when we mix with the world, we too need to let God’s word to burn longer, hotter, and brighter through us.
We need to be salty because the world needs to hear God’s words, so they too can feast hope and peace. We are the body of Christ. We are His salt. We are not meant to sit on a shelf where we lose our flavor and become useless.
So here’s the point I think Jesus is trying to make. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular old table salt, or some exotic smoky sea salt, or even salt of a different color. You are salt. I am salt. And it’s up to us to season the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
He is the life-giving element that keeps us spiritually and physically healthy so we can heal and enhance our relationships and communities, right here in the Kingdom of God. Good salt does what it’s supposed to do.
Our saltiness depends on following Jesus faithfully – to mirror him in the way we love and forgive. This involves being humble with one another, giving of ourselves to others, and reaching out and accepting all the people around us; just as Jesus did.
A daily dose of Jesus, the very Word of God, is our assurance that our salt will always be fresh, and that we will always be at peace with one another.
And so I leave you with this question today: How will you be the salt of the world in your work, your classroom, your family, or in your neighborhood?
How will you be the seasoning of Jesus Christ that enhances the flavor of hope and love to an undernourished world that hungers for true peace?
Jesus says, “Have salt in yourself, and be at peace with one another.” Amen.
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An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”