Most Christians are familiar with Jesus's famous "Sermon on the Mount." Jesus makes several analogies and comparisons to what a follower of Christ should look like which usually provides the often quoted Matthew 5:13-15 "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. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house."
It's amazing how people largely agree that salt, in both modern day and ancient times, enhances the taste of food. When paired with the instruction to be "the light of the world," we as Christians should spread the gospel with a consumable, hope-filled demeanor that enhances the kingdom with our own radical redemption on display. I love thinking about it this way. The gospel taking the bitterness or blandness out of life and convincing us all that we were created in God's image and there is a divine purpose for us on earth because of the work Jesus did on the cross. But salt, surprisingly, has had many other roles that can also provide great parallels to Christian influence in this uncertain world.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the word "salary" was derived from the word "salt?" Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. This is where we get the expression "he/she is worth their salt." However, knowing salt makes things taste better is hardly a reason to esteem it as currency, right? How was salt more important than money?
Wound Treatment- salt was one of the first pharmacology ingredients in the world. "Rubbing salt in a wound" was recommended by healers and doctors for centuries to help neutralize bacteria in wounds.
Symbol of Purity- because of its ability to prevent disease, many religions regarded salt as sacred to ceremonies. It's ability to bring things back to their original state made salt a symbol of purity and cleansing.
The Preservative- the magic power of salt was it's ability to preserve dead things from decaying. Prior to refrigeration, foods covered in salt quite literally saved people from dying from what they ate. Being a preservative is the attribute of salt that I feel like the world is searching for today.
2020 has surfaced so many things that we never thought we would have to think about. New issues will always draw lines of division within the body of people it affects. Around every corner there is an argument about something-- civil rights, opening or closing schools, vaccines, and election results all demand an opinion from everyone. What I find disappointing and somewhat unbelievable is that many Christians have chosen to not be salt or light when the world is bitter and dark. Do we feel like certain people don't deserve it? Do we feel it's something we need to hoard instead of share? Or are we just afraid to bridge a gap for fear of looking like a sellout or a pacifist? Culture today says in order to be "A" you must also hate "B"; an unforgiving line exists between the two and any movement toward or over the line is a sign of surrender or defeat. How does this align with being salt and light? Hint: it doesn't.
If we are to be salt, we must be every aspect of the salt: the palatable sustenance, bringing more value that the things of this world, a healing place for deep wounds, a pure place, and finally the preservative. It takes courage to sit with someone that doesn't believe what you believe and declare: I know we are different, but I would still like to remain your friend. Today, we are so quick to tag people as "toxic," "crazy," or "brainwashed." Of course, those people exist, but when those terms are put on everyone that is different than you, friend, there is only on common denominator. Sin creates a comfortable home in the hearts of people who think they don't have anything else to learn. No matter what we think we know, 2020 has pushed everyone down their various silos for reasons we can't understand unless we are brave enough to learn. Do we know how to ask questions without judging people for their answers? In today's world, that's a rare and almost weird skill. But, it is required of us if we are to season the world.
What did Christ do to preserve you from death and decay? Even in our sin and outright wretchedness He gave himself in our place before we even understood how expensive our sin was. However, we didn't have to wait until heaven to understand the goodness and fullness of Christ; He also heals our wounds, purifies our souls, and keeps us focused on eternity as we exist on planet earth. When we realize what all He's done for us, we must find ways to preserve the love of Christ in our thoughts, conversations, and actions.
It's not about making anyone "see it my way." It's about maintaining unwavering love and obedience when the world says withhold love and do whatever you want. What will the world remember about the Church in 2020? If we added to the divide, then we've missed the mark in not just calling others to Christ, but to the calling God put on us the day we were born. Preserve those who are precious to God!