Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
After preaching from Matthew 5:13-16 two weeks ago, my mind keeps going back to the reality of what it means to be salt in this world. I keep asking myself the question, “What does it really, practically look like to be salt in this world?” Salt was primarily used as a preservative back in Jesus’ day. Since they didn’t have refrigerators, they rubbed salt deep into the meat so as to preserve the meat. Looking more in depth about being salt in this world, I think it would be safe to say that what Jesus is looking for us to do and be in this world is a preservative for that which is right, honorable, and godly in this world. So, how? How do we do it?
The salt shaker analogy is helpful here. The salt in the saltshaker that isn’t used is doing nothing. In fact, if it sits long enough it will clump and become useless. As we sit comfortably in our homes watching the news and then come to church to talk about how bad the world is getting, we will begin to clump and become useless as salt in this world. We must be active ingredients in the world. While the oft-quoted, non-bible verse that says we should be “in the world, but not of the world” is helpful, it can also be misleading. David Mathis says that what that phrase can communicate is the idea that we are in this world, alas, but what we really need to do is make sure that we’re not of it.” What that phrase can end up doing is decommissioning us from being sent ones of Christ. We are to be in the world, not of the world, but commissioned servants of Christ TO the world!
Just this last week in the news, we were inundated with three major news stories: same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court, continuing racial tension in this nation, and then the earthquake in Nepal. As I consider those three stories, our biblical worldview has a lot to say. We hold to marriage as being sacred; we are called to love one another no matter what race we are; and natural disasters happen in this life because of the reality of sin. When news events are swirling, we have opinions from our biblical worldview that are wise and important to share. When we hear the mess in Baltimore, many of us tend to want to take a side of one of the groups of people. We either defend the policeman, or we defend the people who are outraged. Instead of defending, we should raise our voices of disdain for violence, whether it is warranted or unwarranted, or if it’s from police brutality or from civilians who feel discriminated against. There are bigger issues at stake than taking sides in such a hot-bed issue like that which is happening in Baltimore.
We are called to defend the fatherless, the orphans, the widows, and the marginalized, and at the same time willingly submit to our authorities. We are to look after the marginalized and show Christ’s love to all people, no matter what social class or ethnicity. We may disagree with those who are fighting for same-sex marriage, but we must somehow show Christ to them while we stand strong in our conviction about marriage.
To be salt in this world means we need to show Christ to all people. We must seek to preserve that which is right and honorable and godly. Lord, help us to be salt in the midst of such emotionally-charged situations. And help us to stand for what is right, and show love, grace, and compassion to all involved.