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Part 16

02 Jun 2021

Matthew 5:13

“You are the salt of the earth”

The immediate and obvious implication of salt here is with regards to taste and flavour. Salt enhances the flavour of everything you add it to. In short, it makes food more tasty, taste better. Greater delight is derived from eating a food when salt is added, greater joy found in the experience.

The thing with salt is that it dissolves into the food to which it has been added, and as such, disperses through it. In fact, if the salt were to remain in a clump in the food, it would be highly unpleasant.

The call to be salt is a call to maintain our flavour, our saltiness. The only way to do that is to deny the sinful desires of the flesh, live by the Spirit, and thereby remain faithful to God and to each other.

If we cannot do these things then we cannot fulfil the purpose for which we’ve been created. The salt will have lost its savour.

However, the call to be salt is also a call to the missional life, the call to be in the world but not of it. The call to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations. To be a living witness to the truth of who Jesus is and the good news of the Gospel of Christ, to teach others to do the same.

All too often however, the followers of Christ fail to disperse. They remain in a clump refusing to dissolve into their context, and as such, they run the risk of becoming distasteful and unpleasant.

Some refuse to leave the salt shaker at all, but instead cloister themselves off from the world.

Because we are called to be salt we are called to die to ourselves, to dissolve into our context and to flavour it with the aroma of Christ wherever we go.

It’s a call to self denial, a denial of the flesh and its desires so that we remain salty, but a call to get out of the salt shaker none the less.

Often when I hear this passage preached, the emphasis is on the preservative nature of salt rather than Jesus clear implications with regards to flavour. However, another aspect of salt strikes me as more important to Jesus and His Jewish hearers than the preservative quality of salt, and that is the mandate that all of the Old Testament sacrifices were to be offered with salt, with a salt offering.

Salt was a costly commodity in the ancient world. Men were often paid for their labour with salt, deals were struck and contracts undertaken with the exchange of salt. Each member of the contract would take a portion of salt from their own pouch and place it in the pouch of their contract partner, the idea being that the contract could only be broken if the individual grains of salt belonging to each partner could be separated out form the pouches.

That salt was added to the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament highlights that the offering to the God of the Bible was not a cheap thing but was in fact costly. It signified that a transaction was taking place, a deal was being done, a contract, or more appropriately a covenant was being upheld.

In short, salt was added to the offering as a part of the process of the offering being set apart to God, and through the offering in upholding the covenant, the people set apart also.

Jesus use of the metaphor of salt should highlight to us that we are to be a living sacrifice, holy pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. As a sacrifice we are to die to ourselves and to live for the Lord if we are to maintain our flavour.

We are to disperse into our context with the Gospel and flavour that context wth the holiness of our godly living, enhancing the flavour of our culture with the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and by making disciples wherever we go.

This kind of life is not cheap, nor is it easy. It is hard and costly, only the few will walk this path, the many will find excuses to stay in the salt shaker, to remain as an unpleasant clump within the soup of their context, or to stray from The Way entirely.

Their end will be to be trod under foot as the Master of the winepress treads out the grapes of His wrath at the end of the age.

How salty are we? Are we getting out of the salt shaker or are we remaining as an unpleasant tasting clump in the context to which God has called us?

If we are dispersing into the world are we enhancing the flavour of the world or, as we live as faithful disciples who make disciples, are we permeating the world with the flavour of Christ, proclaiming repentance and the forgiveness of sin found only in Christ and His future coming wherever we live, work and serve.

Are our lives lived as a costly sacrifice, set apart for the Lord or are we ambling in the well watered and tended, tree lined verge that borders the hard and narrow path?

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