"YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH." (Mt. 5:13)
"The salt of the earth" figuratively means in the plural, 'the finest citizenry', and in the singular, 'one among them'. In the course of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses the listeners individually and collectively as the salt of the earth. He reminds them that salt renders itself good for nothing when it loses its taste. The reminder serves to warn against their losing sight of their mission in life and leading bland, unsavory, meaningless lives.
During the Lord's earthly ministry, pure salt was a very scarce commodity, and therefore, quite dear and often a suitable medium of exchange in terms of its stability in value. Hence, the use of the figure of speech is in context to challenge the listeners to evaluate what they really 'are', and what they 'can be' in God's kingdom on earth by being like pure salt without blemish.
The Lord's message is as much relevant to us individually as Christian
believers, and collectively as a parish/diocese/church in the 21st century as it was to the listeners then. In modern usage, we often refer to a diligent and dedicated worker as being 'worth his/her salt'. That means, the worker concerned MERITS IN FULL, what he/she earns as salary, by virtue of personal commitment, perseverance and resultant improved productivity. The word 'salary' itself is derived from the word 'salt'. In fact, salary means 'salt-money'.
We read in Job 6:6, "Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt." The same is a fact of life even today. Salt is extremely useful in our day-to-day lives when used in its appropriate quantity. Salt is immensely valuable for what it does. Salt SEASONS; PRESERVES; PURIFIES; IRRITATES CUTS AND BRUISES; PERMEATES AND PENETRATES. Life without salt is inconceivable. So must be Christianity and its adherents to the present-day social life.
Millions around the globe remain literally drained of their spiritual dignity, emotional security, mental peace and physical well-being. They desperately look for props to cling to while living through the abject misery of their broken lives. Just as salt seasons and causes flavor to come alive, Christian believers and their churches of various denominations must strive to redeem them by imparting flavor and zest to their otherwise wretched lives. They have to be provided with at least a semblance of hope worth living for.
Like salt, Christianity has to be consistently an efficacious 'preservative' in the face of rapidly vanishing values of life such as respect for the sanctity of life; chivalry; chastity in thought, speech and action; courage of conviction; personal integrity and so on. A society solidly founded on sound moral tenets and values will become a forlorn dream unless Christianity does its
part in protecting and PRESERVING moral values on a war footing.
In 2 Kings 2:20-22 is the narrative of how Elisha made a polluted spring of water wholesome by dropping salt in it from a new bowl with a prayerful pronouncement of blessing over the water. Salt has antiseptic properties to heal. In olden days new-born babes were given a saline bath to ward off or avoid infections. Christianity has to play the role of 'purifying salt' by being a relentless uncompromising voice of sanity and moral rectitude against the
rampant corrupting influences that threaten modern civilization. Social ills will then be certainly healed, heralding the dawn of a better morrow.
Mark 9:49 reads: "For every one will be salted with fire." It implies that a burning sensation is common to both salt and fire. As far as cuts and bruises are concerned, salt is an irritant. Christians and their churches of various denominations must also act as 'irritants' in a sick society. The decaying modern culture badly needs and calls for the salt of Christianity and the Lord's empowering gospel to break away from the stinking status quo, and start afresh in newness of spirit.
Just as salt permeates and penetrates water, churches of various
denominations are to deploy their human resources to reach out to, and
penetrate all the different social strata, with the life-giving gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, instead of keeping it hidden under a bushel. A sweeping spiritual revival will then ensue giving hope and healing to billions.
Christians are required NOT to be conformed to this world. They are to be strikingly different from non-Christians in their thought and behavioral patterns. Apostle Paul, therefore, exhorts us: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt." (Col. 4:6) We owe it to ourselves and to our Lord to conduct ourselves in such an exemplary manner as to be able to draw non- Christians to the Lord of Glory.
I conclude this message by posing to myself the question: "Am I, my parish, my diocese, my church pure salt or salt that has lost its savor?"
Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen,
Austin, TX. (ID No. 4160)