“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”
–Matthew 5:13 (NLT)
Have you ever considered some of the trends that we’ve adopted? There are nose rings, tongue rings, and hole-filled jeans, to name just a few.
We do all kinds of absurd things in order to make a statement, but I have 2 questions for you. first, what are we really trying to say? And secondly, why are these statements we’re trying to make so important to us?
Next week we will consider the price of such statements, but right now we’ll be looking at the reasoning behind them. There are probably a lot more reasons than I am listing, and it goes without saying that some are more important than others. But I think it’s safe to say that one of our most important needs is our search for acceptance.
While we all want to stand out, no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb, so we also want to fit in as much as possible. At other times however, I honestly don’t think we have a clue why we do what we do.
In this post, we can only tackle a few thoughts. So lastly, we will look at some of the distinctions which Jesus said His followers should possess, as an outgrowth of God’s acceptance.
I was no exception when it came to the search for meaning and identity. So let me tell you how that played out in my life.
When I was growing up, it was considered cool to have long hair. So in order to fit in, I grew mine down to my shoulders. But it didn’t stop there. If you were a really cool guy, you grew a beard too. Needless to say, my dad didn’t like my new facial hair, so I moved out. But that’s another story for another time.
This week’s story, though, begins with my mom, who was more accepting of my long hair. We once had an important place to be, and we must have been famished when we were done with our appointment. So since Mom was driving, I took her out to lunch at a fancy restaurant. The place was right outside of Hollywood, California. All the big movie stars hung out there, which meant that the restaurant was very snobby and overpriced.
And then there was me. My hair was wavy, and it looked more like a woman’s hair than a man’s. My beard made me look more like a gorilla in heat than anything else.
When the waitress came to our table, though, she didn’t see the beard at first. Assuming that I was a female, she asked, “What will you have, ladies?” Then she saw the beard, and was chagrined. I was also embarrassed, but not enough to cut my hair.
I had felt the need to be accepted, but I found out in my teens that no one loves or accepts me like Jesus does. His entire ministry centered around this acceptance. He said that those who came to Him would never be forsaken or cast out.
Jesus taught us great truths in ordinary ways. One of the illustrations that those who lived during both His time and ours are familiar with is the use of everyday salt. Salt provides an object lesson about how we are to live, in response to God’s acceptance of us.
“Okay,” you might be saying, “so what are some characteristics that Jesus’ followers are to possess?”
In order to understand what He meant, let’s look at some of the properties which salt contains.
Like salt we, as His disciples, should drive men to Him. Jesus told us that we all have an unquenchable thirst for God, and we are searching for the kind of peace and fulfillment that only He can give. But sadly, the church has often lost its savor or taste.
So let’s consider this. If you taste something salty, it obviously brings on thirst. Similarly, the church is meant to sprinkle spiritual salt throughout the world. This sprinkling takes place when we lift up Jesus wherever we go.
Imagine that it’s a hot day outside, and you’re dying of thirst. After you’ve quenched your own thirst, there is no doubt you would be able to tell someone else how to quench theirs. As Jesus’ salt, we do the same thing. In other words, our lives should point people to the living water of Jesus, where they can forever quench their thirst for Him.
But sometimes I think we get confused about this, for it is the role of the Holy Spirit to show people their need, and our role is to bring them to the fountain. Paul said it best in a scripture which I’ll paraphrase here: “Some plant and some water, but God gives the increase.”
Salt has also been used as a disinfectant and purifying agent for years, since it kills harmful bacteria. You might gargle with salt water when you have a sore throat. But if you swallow salt instead of spitting it out, you might choke on it, which is no fun at all.
We sometimes choke while trying to be agents of purification on our own. But Jesus’ disciples must allow God to work through them, for that is His job. The Bible tells us that we can both grieve and quench the Holy Spirit, and one way to do that is by not walking in the light of His Word.
Jesus also said that we can’t tell others about the water of the Word in a meaningful way, unless we are washed in it ourselves. Before we can help anyone else, we must first go to God and ask Him to cleanse us.
Here’s another way we are like salt. Before refrigeration was common, salt was used as a preservative. The only other way to keep food from spoiling was to eat it.
As Christians, we should also try to act as a preserving influence in a fallen world. The Bible says that as much as is possible, we are to live in peace with all men. So by bringing light and peace wherever we can, Christians can be uniting agents. But again, we don’t preserve ourselves. We only point to the One who is the life preserver.
I want to make it clear that I am not talking about world peace here. Instead, I’m referring to the peace of reconciliation, which Jesus spoke about. While it might be hard for you to do, ask Christ for strength if you need to go to your brother or sister and make things right with them.
Lastly, everyone knows there’s nothing like a little salt to liven up a dish. By the same token, too much salt can ruin your food. The followers of Christ are to be a sweet savor to God by providing spiritual seasoning in the world, and sharing the flavor of the gospel with others. However, we can’t do this in our own strength. We can only be salt by abiding in Christ, the rock of our salvation. All things can be done through Him, so we must yield to Him by constantly attempting to draw closer to Him, and walking in obedience.
But like a child who is learning to walk, we will sometimes stumble. Therefore, becoming Rock salt is essential. Otherwise, we are like the bad salt that Jesus spoke about, losing our taste and being trodden underfoot.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6499. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
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