Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.
"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage." (Matthew 5:13)
Did you know that the taste of salt is one of the basic "tastes" that we can sense? There are four basic "tastes" that the human tongue can interpret - sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness. Take in something that is too salty and you will immediately form a desire for hydration - you want to drink because salt has the function of assisting in the "water-balance" of your body. Too much or too little salt in your diet affects you with dizziness, muscle cramping, neurological problems, and even death. So, having the right "balance" of salt in our system is important to our good health. Yesterday, I worked out in the heat a little too long. Even after showering, I licked my lips a little while later and my immediate taste was that of saltiness. Why? I had been perspiring out all the extra sodium in my system while out in that heat and I think there was a little bit left on my lips! It is one of the easiest 'tastes' to interpret by the human body.
When Jesus spoke of being "salt-seasoning" that brings out the God-flavors of the earth, he was describing the purpose that salt has in being a flavor-enhancer. If you have ever had to restrict your sodium intake for any length of time, you will know how much you can "crave" just a little salty snack! Your body has a use for salt, so when it is restricted too much, it craves it. The same is true in a spiritual sense - if the "saltiness" of our character is not doing the work it is intended to do on this earth, life is dull! According to the "Salt Institute" there are about 14,000 known uses for salt! If we explore just a few, we might see why Jesus tells us not to lose our "savor" on this earth.
1) When added to water on the stove, it functions to allow the water to come to a higher cooking temperature, thus reducing the cooking time required for the food being prepared. Maybe Jesus is challenging us to be salt on this earth because the time is short! The time for his message to 'cook' on this earth is growing short - we need to be salt!
2) When you add two teaspoons of salt to a cup of water, a fresh egg will rise to the top and an older egg will sink to the bottom. This doesn't mean the egg is rotten - just that it is more "mature". Maybe Jesus was challenging us to reveal the spiritual maturity of those we associate with in community. Bring to the surface those who need help in their growth and allow those who are more mature to mentor those who need our assistance.
3) When you don't want freshly cut fruit to lose their natural color, turning brown on the cut edges, you quickly dip them in a salt water bath and drain. Maybe Jesus was reminding us that we have the ability to keep things fresh - allowing the "true colors" of this world to be seen. We rarely think of ourselves as 'keeping fresh' this world, but without the influence of Christ in this world, it would quickly become a rotten and putrid place to dwell.
4) When you want to keep a "cured" cast iron skillet clean, but not damage the "curing process", you clean it by rubbing salt on the pan's surface to remove the excess grease. This is one of the uses that the earlier pioneers had for salt. Maybe Jesus was giving us the wisdom to be able to touch lives without damaging them! There are a whole lot of damaging influences in our world today - to be one that allows the 'curing process' to continue is a good thing.
5) When you add salt to your wash-water, it functions to brighten your colors. Maybe Jesus was showing us that we actually bring "new life" to old things just by being "salt". Just a few ideas on the ways that we might be "salt" on this earth - bringing out the God-flavor and spark of life for all to enjoy! Just sayin!