Salt of the Earth

Matthew 5:13 is probably a familiar passage for most of us.  Jesus tells his listeners during the sermon on the mount that they are the “salt of the earth.”  You have likely heard many sermons on what it takes to be salt, how to be the salt, and how a little salt can make a big difference.  Jesus goes on to say that without saltiness, salt isn’t good for anything.  Just what is this saltiness he refers to?

As Christian believers, we have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at all times.  He directs our steps.  I try to be careful to always refer to the Holy Spirit as he and not an it.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity.  He directs our steps, convicts of sin, and speaks to us as the voice of God to guide us when we let him.  Jesus promised his apostles that he would not leave them comfortless, and so often the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Comforter.  We see a specific event when Jesus ascended into heaven, and the Book of Acts records a very specific event and time when the Holy Spirit arrived.  It is God’s presence in us that makes us salt.  Possessing the gospel message, the good news, is what makes Christians different from every other person, and we must spread the gospel to please God.  So what is salt that has lost its saltiness?

Preaching that lacks the gospel is salt without saltiness.  A professed Christian whose life bears no evidence of Christ’s presence is like salt without its taste.  The fruits of the spirit are listed in Galatinas 5, and these are the evidence of a Christian witness being the salt of the earth.  So when you hear a prosperity gospel preacher tell you to trust in God to bless you with stuff, but never mentions the shed blood of Christ; when Joel Osteen (think Norman Vincent Peal with shinier teeth) tells you to just think posistive thoughts, but never once mentions the price of sin; when some exclusive little congregation closes themselves into their sanctuary becasue they’re the only 30 people going to heaven; that’s how salt without saltiness looks in our world today.

4 thoughts on “Salt of the Earth

  1. Thank you for your comment! It is so true that we are jaded Americans. Churches in China have services that are three + hours long and the energy and excitement is amazing there. It is a totally different experience than it is here. It is funny that you mention Africa, because our church has just come home from an overseas missions to the Ivory Coast. The services are un-produced and truly organic experiences, they last hours. Christ’s love and grace are felt so deeply in other countries.

  2. Clark …. I appreciate your comment. Of course, the metaphor of salt is quite wide ranging. I have always understood it to refer to the notion of preservation and purification. In the absence of refrigeration, salt would have been the primary method of preserving. I picked this up from Wikipedia:

    “* Exodus, Ezekiel, and Kings present salt as a purifying agent
    * Leviticus, Numbers, and Chronicles present it as a sign of God’s covenant.
    * The most important use of salt was as a preservative and hence the most common interpretation of the metaphor is as asserting the duty to preserve the purity of the world.
    * In the Rabbinic literature of the period salt was a metaphor for wisdom.
    * Salt was a minor but essential ingredient in fertilizer and so a few scholars such as Gundry believe that earth should be translated as soil (i.e. salt of the soil), and hence the metaphor asserts that the audience should help the world grow and prosper.
    * One interpretation of salt of the earth is that it orders the audience to take part in the world rather than withdraw from it”

    The last item is, I believe, where you are coming from. Osteen and his crew are attempting to build a spiritual “gated community” around themselves, withdrawing from the very real suffering and social injustices which plague the world. As long as they have what they need, they seem to be happy. That is not a Biblical message I can subscribe to.

  3. nice exhortation, good enough to knock out some false thoughts. but i guess, the Lord would like to refer to a salt being used for the soil or the manure (luke 14:34-35), if one losses saltiness then only fir to be trampled by men (mat 5:13). Then this is not simply the salt commonly used for cooking coz its the dead sea salt the Lord had in mind. It was being used as fertilizer, thus making godly things grow, as disinfectant thus making evil things die, and last but not the least, when the temple tiles got wet , salt was carpetted to make it not slippery, thus making worship things happen. So there’s no way a Christian could be of no usefulness as salt of the earth. God bless!

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