Stay salty my friends

Published 6:50 pm Friday, January 24, 2020

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By Nathan Decker

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”

– Jesus in Matthew 5:13

Wait a minute! Ever read something and just assumed it was true. I’ve been doing this for a long time with this passage of Scripture. This is because I read Scripture with an awkward assumption: Jesus only tells the factual truth, except when he doesn’t. In this passage Jesus is really trying to make us understand a deeper truth by telling us something that isn’t factual.

How can salt lose its saltiness? The answer: It can’t. Sodium chloride and potassium chloride are both very stable chemical compounds. We typically refer to them simply as salt. Salt doesn’t change. Salt changes other things. That’s one of the reasons it was so essential to ancient life. They used salt in food to preserve it, not to mention make it taste better. A little salt is necessary for fertilizing fields. Salt was even used as currency; after all, we get the word salary from salt!

So what is Jesus saying here? Disciples are the salt, and salt doesn’t lose its saltiness. So being a disciple is an “either you are or your aren’t” kind of deal. We are either following Jesus, or we are not. We are either helping preserve and uplift the world, or we are not. We are either fertilizing the soil, encouraging just transactions, and establishing God’s Kingdom on earth … or we are not.

Salt that isn’t salty? That’s just not salt. Just like the light Jesus mentions just before these verses, salt can’t hide what salt truly is. Don’t believe me? Try substituting salt for baking soda or oregano or garlic next time you are cooking in the kitchen. It won’t work. When we give our lives to Christ, when we begin following Jesus as disciples, when we turn our hearts over to the guidance of the Spirit — it is unmistakable.

Salt is salty. Disciples follow Jesus. And what does that mean? It means radical grace by forgiving people who don’t deserve it. A translation of love in our speech and actions to not just friends but also enemies who are out to get us. A stewardship of the gifts God gives us in time, money, space and creation. It means spending time in prayer and worship to open our lives to grow more and more salty.

When Jesus told his disciples they were the light, the salt, and those to whom the Good News had been trusted, he was calling them to be unique, unmistakable and exceptional. No one hides a lamp under the couch. Salt is salty. And disciples, we follow Jesus. Spend time this week cultivating your saltiness through prayer, worship and reflective opening of your heart to God. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

We can choose to be perfect and admired, or be real and loved.”

– Glennon Doyle, author.