You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)
Jesus led his disciples to a mountain. They were thrilled to be with Him and eager to listen to what He had to say.
Be salt, he says. What was salt used for in that culture? It flavored food. In other words, Jesus was asking them, and us, to flavor the world. Without our saltiness, the world will taste flat and insipid.
Salt was also used as a preservative. This means that if they and we aren’t salty, the world will rot and spoil.
When the disciples were climbing the mountain, did they wonder if Jesus would be creating a new nation like Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments? Were they relieved when He didn’t begin with a series of “thou shalt not” and “thou shalt?” Did following Jesus initially sound easier than trying to fulfill the law?
I wonder what they thought after hearing Him. Did following Jesus still seem less difficult after being told that He wanted them to change, flavor, and preserve the world? Did they miss and hanker for Moses?
When Jesus says, “…if salt has lost its taste… It is no longer good for anything,” He’s imploring us to be distinct. If we talk, think, and act like everyone else, we aren’t being salty. When we lose our saltiness, the world will miss our ability to flavor and preserve.
Jesus uses these bracing words because He’s worried about the world. There’s decay everywhere, and without our saltiness, things will spoil. He’s not suggesting that we be salt; He’s commanding it.
As we commit ourselves to being “salt” for Jesus, I encourage us to remember that salt is ordinary and common. This suggests that our saltiness doesn’t need to be particularly noteworthy or sensational. Just like a pinch of salt can bring together a stew, there are ordinary times and common occasions when a pinch of Jesus’ love or peace through us can make all the difference.
- Who have you known who flavored their relationships with grace and preserved and brought out the best in others? What was distinct about them?
- Where might Jesus be asking you to be saltier for Him and for the sake of others? Is there someplace, relationship, or group that’s at risk of becoming tasteless or spoiling? If so, what are you going to do?
- Do you try to remain distinct from the prevailing norms in our culture, or do you try to fit in? If the latter, has your walk with Jesus “lost its taste?”