Monday, October 31, 2011

Salt

You might have noticed that I talk a lot about preserving here- freezing, canning, storing and even a little bit of drying.  This is why I find it so odd that I have entirely missed a preserving reference in a Bible passage that I thought I knew very well.

Just after Jesus gives us the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (in the book of Matthew), he says in the beginning of verse 13,

“You are the salt of the earth."

This is a verse I know many of us are familiar with.  For some reason, in all my years of reading and hearing it I always considered our "saltiness" to be for the purpose of flavoring.  We are the salt, as in we influence and affect those that we come in contact with in the world.  It goes hand in hand with verse 14 that says we are the light of the world.  Our light and flavor reach out and touch those in the world around us.

Then, just the other week, I read an article in Christianity Today, an evangelical publication I subscribe to because I believe it offers something us Mennonites may at times be missing.  In an article in the October 2011 issue by John R. W. Stott entitled, Salt & Light: Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World, Stott writes his reflections regarding these metaphors of salt and light (boldness, mine)...

"In both these metaphors of the salt and the light, Jesus teaches about the responsibility of Christians in a non-Christian, or sub-Christian, or post-Christian society.  He emphasizes the influences Christians ought to have on the non-Christian environment.  The distinction between the two is clear.  The world, he says, is like rotting meat.  But you are to be the world's salt.  The world is like a dark night, but you are to be the world's light.  This is the fundamental difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, the church and the world.


Then he goes on from the distinction to the influence.  Like salt in putrefying meat, Christians are to hinder social decay.  Like the light in the prevailing darkness, Christians are to illuminate society and show it a better way.  It's very important to grasp these two stages in the teaching of Jesus.  Most Christians accept that there is a distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian , between the church and the world.  God's new society, the church , is as different from the old society as salt from rotting meat and as light from darkness.


But there are too many people who stop there; too many people whose whole preoccupation is with survival- that is, maintaining the distinction...Salt and light are not just a bit different from their environment.  They are to have a powerful influence on their environment.  The salt is to be rubbed into the meat in order to stop the rot.  The light is to shine into the darkness.  It is to be set upon a lamp stand, and it is to give light to the environment.  That is an influence on the environment quite different from mere survival."

For me, this particular perspective on this verse gives me an urgency that goes beyond flavoring.  Flavoring is optional.  Not opting for salt makes for a bland world, but sometimes it seems as if the world is very happy being bland.  But, to stop social decay?  To be rubbed in to preserve?  This is not optional.  It's necessary and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ tells us it is what we are.

Do I believe it?  Am I living out my purpose or merely surviving?  Ask these questions of yourself, too.  Let's see what the Spirit can do with us when we're willing to be what we've been created to be.  The result won't be boring.  I can tell you that. Pin It

8 comments:

  1. Great perspective! I've never related those scriptures that way before...great food for thought (no pun intended!) have a beautiful week!
    ~Mary

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  2. Amen to that! That is one of those posts that makes me cheer! Love the last paragraph.

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  3. OK, I got goose bumps reading this post. Stop social decay? Wow, that's a tall order. Not boring, indeed. I think some soul-searching is in order on this one. Thanks!

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  4. This is so interesting! I also had always read that verse and interpreted it as Christians 'flavoring' the world around us.

    I just read another interpretation in the kid's devotional I do with my boys. In that one, they referred to the fact that salt makes us thirsty. And, that we should be making the world around us thirsty for Jesus.

    I also like what this article that you read says too.

    Amazing how scripture can still take on so many new aspects even after we've read the same passage over and over.

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  5. wow! i feel so stupid for not having "gotten" this before! i just thought of 'salt' s a seasoning- but this really puts it into perspective!!

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  6. New things to think about. (.....pray about!)

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  7. Amen-,Jane but I feel the spirit or I mean myself needs to work harder with the spirit

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  8. Thank you for this. I've been troubled by some of the fear-based isolation some Christians seem to live by. Jesus was the ultimate example of someone not hiding himself away from the uglier elements of the world but "salting" it freely.

    Really, thanks.

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