Salt and the Beatitude

You are the salt of the earth, but it salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be trodden underfoot.       Matthew 5:13-14 

I grew up in a big city, so when my first parish was in a farmers retirement hamlet, there was a lot to learn about a whole different way of life.  For example, grocery stores had their place, of course, but by and large there was food literally all around us.  All one had to do was to harvest it, prepare it, and then preserve it, whether it was meat, garden produce, berries or other fruit.   Naturally, there was hard work in this, but it was still cheaper than having to buy it, the taste was much better, and there was satisfaction in eating the efforts of one’s own hand

One family struck my interest.  It was an older couple in the congregation who never had an electrical line brought into their house. When the electrical lines were first strung, it was too expensive getting a power line over the fields to that house, and so it was never done.  Ironically, now that a power line followed the road right in front of their house, they just had no need to connect to it – they had their wood stove, their kerosene lamps, even a 12-volt TV hooked up to a battery which they would swap with the car battery when it needed recharging.  They were happy and contented with their way of life.

The farmers there taught me about the need and use for the little item called salt.. To put up pickles for the coming winter, you naturally needed pickling spices – but also pickling salt!  Although many farmers had gotten used to having big freezers to keep their meats, this couple had no electricity, so everything needed to be canned or smoked.   In the canning process, whether it be beef or pork or chicken, salt was crucial; even for a smoked meat, it had to be rubbed down with salt.

So in Jesus’ time, where electricity, freezers, supermarkets, tin cans, glass bottles were never heard of, people really understood His using salt as the description of the disciple.  The first and the most immediate understanding of salt was simply that it was a preservative – it was essential in keeping things from rotting and becoming putrid.

The ancient Romans considered salt to be one of the purest things you could find, because it comes from the purest of all things: the sun and the sea.  One important characteristic about salt is that it was so different from the item to be preserved.  It wasn’t a piece of meat trying to preserve another piece of meat, nor was it a vegetable – no, it was salt – radically different.  The Latin author Plutarch spoke of salt as a kind of new soul entering, for instance, the meat.  Without it, the dead meat would simply decay – but with the salt, the meat remained ready to be used.

And that’s what we are to be!!  Jesus called us the salt of the earth.  We are to keep the world from getting putrid and rotten.  We are to be a people who are distinctive, different from the rest of the world as salt is distinctive from what it preserves.  We are to be the very by-word of purity, not just as we sit in the pews where you can’t normally get into too much trouble anyway, but that we be a by-word of purity IN THE WORLD.  That means wherever you are found: work, school, with the family, in your recreation, wherever – we are to be ready to be used by our Lord!

Our task is to stand against that which destroys: the empty morality bombarding us from songs, movies, videos; the false love with its broken faithfulness; the perverted sense of beauty which only seeks to lure into sin; the “striving after wind” which the preacher of Ecclesiastes found so disappointing about life; the dependence on the false reality of drugs, alcohol and other addictions.  Like salt, we stand apart from what surrounds us and instead are the evidence that God can and does revitalize our lives and society.  We’re here to preserve the world from going rotten!

Hard on its heels is a second use of salt: it not only preserves, it seasons – it brings out the taste in a particular food, so that what was rather bland and uninteresting now has its flavor burst upon you.  As Christians, we are able to make life flavorful to those around us!!  How, how else can you do that except to accent how there is a depth and fullness to life which makes each day worth getting up for!

We represent a God Who did not run away from being part of our world, Who is willing to be partner in each person’s life.  We have the secret of true satisfaction as we see others perk up and become grounded in hope.  We reveal forgiveness and a change of life to those burdened with failures and even with deliberate rebellions against what they know is right, to those willing to repent and hand over to God the tasteless emptiness of their existence.

Through us, they come face-to-face with the tremendously merciful God and Savior Who Jesus is, Who salts everything with an eternal dimension, Who gives lasting meaning and encouragement in their efforts to live as God created them to be.  They begin to distinguish the living flavors of honesty, goodness, grace, mercy, steadfast love, faithfulness, and justice.  There is the enhancement of every moment as they discover a God Who walks by their side, helping, guiding, strengthening, renewing them into eternity, as they grasp the meaning behind Jesus’ words, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly!!”  [John 10:10].  Now that’s a salted life, full and interesting and alive!!!

Mechanism of action: Another question that may strike your brain could be the reason of selecting this treatment for yourself then you are always advised to visit the physician or stand in a queue over the counter. This herb helps you rejuvenate your energy level and makes you easy to approach her for lovemaking. You do not have to wait for them to be open to trying a course of action for a couple of months and then exploring another one if that one wasn’t effective for you. Ordering specific controlled substances from overseas may violate US law; purchasing substances that haven’t been approved by the FDA is investigating the reported death of a 26-year old man, possibly associated with the use of Vigor-25. Salt stings and smarts when it is rubbed into a wound.  Although not appreciated, nonetheless it brings attention to the broken areas of the skin.  Pain is the body’s trigger to mobilize its healing systems to attack injuries, even compelling the person to seek out help when the problem is just too big to handle on one’s own, especially if the problem can otherwise ultimately destroy that person.

It is hard to be the salt which reveals the brokenness of the world, showing humanity how far its disobedience has fallen from God’s design and desire.  It isn’t comfortable to reveal how wounded, how torn open, how deadly the damage has become, but it is necessary to sting the world with the law of God, to make it wake up and go where justice, forgiveness, hope, and life are to be found – to the same God Who seasons our own lives.

But also understand in the midst of this that salt cleanses and promotes healing, it is not merely content with showing what is wrong.  In a hospital, saline solution intravenous drips provide hydration and avenues for administrating medications.  There is a lot of comfort to sore and strained muscles in warm Epson salt soaks.  As salt we have the ability to open avenues of renewal to people who are damaged and hurting, who need to receive what is life-saving and life-giving into their lives, who need in their stresses and their distresses the comfort and warmth of God and His People.

Jesus added some hard words to His identifying us as salt: any salt which doesn’t do its job is worthless, good only to be used on pathways to keep dust and vegetation down.  The word translated as “losing its saltiness” is derived from the Greek word, “moron,” which means “foolish, godless.”  In the Bible, the fool is one who Is unable to think outside of himself; who refuses to face the results and ramifications of her actions and attitudes, who won’t listen to the wisdom of others, who doesn’t care how others are affected.

And we all stand under this condemnation.  We have become foolish, letting others determine our saltiness.  We are afraid of what others will think and say.  We are afraid of losing perhaps a certain advantage, or we might lose out on some particular thing we like to do.  We look to humans whom we can see, who judges us based upon the selfishness of the heart, and ignore God Whom we don’t see, Who looks deep into our hearts and spirits and sees our desperate need.  We all really do stand in deep trouble.

Jesus comes to be our salt.  Oh, how it stings when He comes speaking of God’s will and His law, the goals especially for us New Testament believers.  It hurts when He reveals just how rebellious we can be, how our thoughts just are not all that pleasing to the Father; how our emotions, desires, and intentions usually have rebellion written across them.  It burns and hurts, because, we know the penalty demanded of any and all sin – death,  eternal death.  God rightfully should turn His back on us.

But one last characteristic of salt is something we here need for ourselves: being called “salt” comes right after the Beatitudes, which speak of hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  Salt also creates thirst.  In answer, Jesus, as He did to the woman at the well, declares to us: “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. The water that I shall give will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life”  [John 4:13-14].  Here at His Table He offers His Body and Blood, calling us to drink of the Living Water to quench our thirst for righteousness and salvation, hope and help, blessing and life

And remember, salt preserves, and so has Jesus come to preserve us!!!  He wants us to last forever, He wants us to be in heaven with Him, and to have absolutely no end in our relationship.  And so to preserve our life, He hands over Himself, God the Son come into the flesh, to be whipped and spit upon, and mocked, and tortured, and then to go through the agony of the cross – all because we were the ones who deserved it, but He wanted to preserve us forever.  And He paid the whole penalty – all of it – for each and everyone of your sins – forever!

The salt of Jesus here fills our lives with flavor.  He rose from the dead for each one of us, for you in particular, just so that we could have the reassurance of Easter.  Here is the proof for absolute surety that forgiveness is real, full and final.  The door wide open for you to come to call God Father, and that He will walk with you no matter where life may lead that He will be there, always be there – in the good times and in the bad; His strength, His power, His love, His help, His guidance, His forgiveness that He will be there for your sake.  Yes, the door is wide open to take what is His and bring it home with you, so that now you can spread the salt of Jesus to everyone around you.

Plutarch said salt adds a new soul, but we have a new Spirit entering us: the Holy Spirit Himself.  In Ephesians [2:10], Paul can now declare, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  This is the new life, the new salt, the new preservative, the new healing, the new forgiveness which has been placed into us, as the Holy Spirit guides our thoughts, perceptions, intentions and all the rest of how we respond to His presence in us to the world around us.

How well the Psalmist declared the truth, “Taste and see that Lord is good!” [Psalm 34:8]

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