Salt – more than a seasoning.
“You are the salt of the earth.” I had often wondered about this statement of Jesus. It seems like a simple metaphor and easy to understand. Salt enhances the taste of most foods and we, as followers of Christ, are to enhance the lives of people around us as we share the Good News of Jesus.
There is a little more to this metaphor though. Salt was treasured in the days of Jesus. What we take for granted today was like pure gold to them. You see, salt is a preservative, and 2,000 years ago people did not have refrigeration. Salt was so valuable in Bible days that it was often traded ounce-for-ounce with gold. Roman soldiers were paid in salt. In fact, the word salary is derived from the word for salt. If a Roman soldier didn’t do his job, he wouldn’t get all of his salt. That’s where we get the phrase, “He is not worth his salt,” if someone does not do a good days work.
Well, Jesus said “you are the salt of the earth” and if salt was worth so much we can take this as quite a compliment. Jesus was saying we are worth as much as gold to Him. He sends us out into the world to season it and preserve it for Him. But what if we don’t do that?
Are we really “Salt”?
What if we never share our faith or tell others anything about Jesus? Salt may be worth its weight in gold if it is used but salt is worthless if it never gets taken off the shelf. It may look nice in the shaker, but if it stays in the shaker it won’t do anything to the taste of the food. If we are going to live up to the image of being the Salt of the Earth, we need to get off the shelf and out of the shaker.
Rev. James Merritt tells this story about a man that walked into the neighborhood grocery store and said, “Do you sell salt?” The man said, “Do we sell salt! Just look!” The man showed the customer an entire wall of shelves stocked with nothing but salt–Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, seasoning salt, Epsom salts—every kind of salt imaginable. The customer was amazed.
“You think that’s something. Come over here.” He led the customer to a back room filled with shelves and bins and cartons and barrels and boxes of salt. The customer said, “This is unreal!” The man said, “You hadn’t seen anything yet.”
He led the customer down some steps into a huge basement, five times as large as the previous room. It was filled wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with every imaginable form, size, and shape of salt you could imagine. The man looked at him and said, “You really do sell salt!” The store owner said, “No, we don’t, that’s just the problem! We never sell salt. But that salt salesman that comes by every week, boy does he sell salt!” Here’s the point: Salt that stays on the shelf doesn’t do anyone any good. It must get out and be used to make a difference. (from James Merritt, Pour the Salt and Turn on the Light”)
Light – More than a flip of a switch.
So wait, let’s look at the next thing Jesus says. “You are the light of the world.” We are the light, I thought Jesus was the Light that shined into the darkness? How has he turned this around?
Well, let’s think about this for a moment. If Jesus is the Light (with a capital L) that shines into the darkness, we can’t be the Light but we can reflect that Light out to others. We can be more like the moon that reflects the sun (Son).
Have you ever walked into a dark room and turned on a table lamp? That lamp works pretty good to light up the room a bit but what if you have mirrors or glass in the room? It sort of doubles the light by reflecting the light of the lamp.
What are we reflecting?
That’s what we are. Jesus shined into the darkness of the world and as we live with Him in our hearts we are illuminated by Him and we reflect His Light to others.
Hmmm…how are we doing at that? Are we reflecting His Light like a bright mirror would or have we allowed the world to fog up or put a film of dirt on our mirror so that the reflection is pretty dim, if it’s there at all?
What we take for granted, others may need.
We come here each Sunday and like an empty salt shaker we are filled with salt as we listen to the Word of God and worship Him. We come and enjoy singing praises and sharing in the love of Christian fellowship all the while basking in the Light of the Son, Jesus Christ but do we take that salt and light out beyond these walls? By the time you get to school, college or work on Monday morning, are you tasteless and dull, unable to enhance or even brighten up the day of your friends or co-workers in any way?
I know you are probably thinking, “Oh, Pastor Karen, you tell us this each week. It’s too hard to shake any salt by talk about our faith or share any light by showing Jesus to others.”
Well, I want to show you something I saw on Facebook – yes that evil internet social media! Actually like I said on my post, when I re-posted this video, we need more of these kinds of posts not only on Facebook but on the news and in the newspapers. Watch as a couple of young men show us how easy it is to be Salt and Light to the world.