Saturday, August 20, 2016

Salt of the Earth

I am reading slowly through the gospels, trying to look with new eyes at what Jesus said without defaulting to the party-line interpretations that recast him and his teachings to fit prevailing orthodoxies.  Usually this means watering down what he says to make it more palatable, or to make it fit a doctrine of pure grace without obedience, or to make him look like a cool guy, or to eliminate the first century Jewishness.  Good try.

"You are the salt of the earth."  I have heard many interpretations of this: salt transforms society, salt gives flavor, salt preserves, etc.  I don't think the first century audience needed all this, and it misses the point, "If salt loses its taste, what good is it?"  Sure, I guess you could still use it to melt ice, but that was hardly a problem for his audience, and considering Roman soldiers were at times paid in salt (therefore, our word salary), melting ice with it would seem pretty wasteful.  We wouldn't throw dollar bills on the ground, unless . . . the saltiness was gone, or the value of the currency was gone.

What matters is our distinct flavor and chemical composition that gives that flavor.  What matters is that we are different.  When we lose our difference, we lose our value.  When we believers are like everyone else, we are no longer salty.  This is a teaching about being who you are and not succumbing to sameness.

Of course, we get into discussions of what differences matter.  I don't think it's that easy.  They all matter; our beliefs, our world views, our approaches to people, our behavior, our attitudes.  But since salt is always a positive thing, we should, I believe focus on what is positive and builds the kingdom and relationships.  The fruit of the Spirit, the armor of God, the love of I Corinthians 13, the "be-attitudes" of Matthew 5.

Barna has an article on its website about research the Group did on attitudes of Americans toward what is extremism in religious behavior. Things such as praying before meals is considered by some extremist.  Good grief.  Today is the day to be extreme and not let fear of being called extreme deter us.

1 comment:

fourkid said...

Excellent point. I agree. And worthless salt was thrown on the roads - an early form of Round-up to keep the weeds at bay.

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