Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sorry, but this is not about a singing song book.

I’ve been studying a few metaphors lately from Matthew 5. In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus tells His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.” Have you heard this expression before? This “salt of the earth” saying floats around. You might say, “Oh, that Martin, he’s so swell. He’s just the salt of the earth.”

But what does that mean?

It’s a weird thing to be called salt. I’m sure this isn’t a reference to our tendency to become salty when we sweat.

For years I’ve assumed this is strictly talking about value. Salt, for the ancient world is valuable. Today, for a couple bucks I can go to the store and get a box of it. In times past it was currency: it held that much value. I don’t think I can walk into Chevron and plop a bag of salt on the counter as payment for my fuel. It doesn’t work that way today.

It also could be that someone is like salt if they have many uses: or perform many duties. Salt can be used for all sorts of things, from preserving meat to cleaning, to softening water. On the website for Windsor salt company they list about 20 different uses for salt besides using it as a seasoning.

So when you liken someone to salt you can be talking about their value and worth and usefulness.

But there is another property of salt, and that is found in the everlasting nature of pure salt. Pure salt never goes bad. Pure salt lasts forever. What if this is what Jesus meant? What if Jesus was saying “You are to last. You will never perish.”

In Second Chronicles chapter 13 verse five, the King of Judah reminds the Israelites that God made a covenant of salt with David setting David’s line as kings forever over the people of God.

Pure salt lasts. Salt doesn’t stop being salty. In the same way we are to continue living as disciples and witnesses. True disciples last.

But there is impure salt. Fake salt you might even call it.

Impure salt looses its saltiness. Impure salt does not last.

So what kind of salt are we? Are we living as pure salt with a witness that will last forever, or as impure salt that is essentially useless?

Will we abstain from the things that make us impure?

Think about this the next time you use salt in one of its twenty plus uses.