Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.” (Mark 9:41-50)
So, let’s talk about salt!
Salt served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling. Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and the sharing of a common meal with one’s friends.
Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves, and produces rich flavor for food, so the disciple of Christ must be salt in the world to purify, preserve, and bring the flavor of God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, joy, and mercy.
What did Jesus mean by the expression “salted with fire” and “salt losing its saltiness”? Salt in the ancient world was often put in ovens to intensify the heat. When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the foot path where it would easily get trodden upon (Matthew 5:13). Perhaps Jesus wanted to contrast useful salt and salt which lost its ability to prevent corruption to encourage his disciples to bring the rich flavor of Christ’s love, holiness, and righteousness to a world dominated by greed, selfish ambition, and neglect for the weak, poor, and defenseless.
We are meant to encourage one another and to draw others to Christ through our witness and our words. What happens when our faith becomes lukewarm? We lose the positive influence we are meant to have on those around us, and we can gradually become desensitized to sin in our own lives. Faithfulness to Christ means being willing to sacrifice whatever it is that draws us away from him.
If we were to look at our own lives, could we find signs that our lives are different from those who do not believe in God? Would people looking at us see something distinctive in the way that we love our families, treat our employees, or care for our neighbors? Is there a taste that tells that we are motivated by something beyond our own self-interest, self-preservation, or comfort?
If you live your life, like everyone else does, you cannot be salt for the earth. If you do not give hope to those who are in darkness, you cannot be the light of the world.
We are asked to be different by the way we live our lives and influence others. This is what it means to be salt for the earth–to so believe in the love of God and the call to justice that we stand apart from what is expected and normal.
A very long time ago, a professor in seminary asked a question which remains in my mind vividly. If it ever became a crime to follow Jesus, would anyone find enough evidence to convict you?
I hope so.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, fill me with the fragrance of your love and truth that I may radiate the joy and peace of the Gospel wherever I go and with whomever I meet.”
Paul the Apostle reminds us that we are called to be “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). The Lord Jesus wants the fragrance of his love and righteousness to permeate our lives, thoughts, speech, and actions. Do you allow the fragrance of Christ’s love and truth to permeate your relationships and circle of influence, especially among your family, friends, and neighbors?