Salt of the Earth
By Peter Amsterdam
“You are the salt of the earth.”
As Christians, one of the things we strive for is to be agents of change in the lives of others and ultimately in society. That can mean making waves or going against the flow. Not everything Christians do and value will always be in harmony with the status quo.
Over a decade ago, then-Pope John Paul II was speaking to university students about overcoming the temptation of mediocrity and conformity. He said, “Following Christ, the crucified King, believers learn that to reign is to serve, seeking the good of others, and they discover that the real meaning of love is expressed in the sincere gift of self.” He stated that when life is lived with this spirit, the Christian becomes the “salt of the earth.”
As Christians, we are called to spice things up with the seasoning of faith we bring. In Colossians, Paul said, “Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive, seasoned with salt, so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:5–6 NLT)
This seems to present a good balance of “making the most of every opportunity” in our witness to those who are unbelievers while ensuring that our speech is both gracious and attractive, and seasoned with the salt of our faith and Christian example. That is what Paul concludes will enable us to have the right response to everyone, or as Peter said, to “always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15 CEV)
Preserving the saltiness
Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist and historian, wrote in one of his encyclopedias, “Nothing is more useful than salt and sunshine.” Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?” His answer: “Have salt in yourselves.” (Mark 9:50)
It’s up to each of us to carry those qualities of salt within us, so that we can season the world around us with His flavoring. The goal of having an alive, deep, and meaningful relationship with Jesus, of manifesting a Christian example and following Jesus’ teachings, of working in unity with others, has always been to be able to be “the salt of the earth,” part of “the light of the world, a city set on a hill” that attracts others to God, so that they too can come to know and love Him, and go on themselves to help others to do the same. (See Matthew 5:13–14)
As we strive to live and hold true to our Christian values, we can fulfill His commission to be the spice of life in this world, to give its full flavor and meaning to others, to be preservers of the good, and to share our faith—the true currency of the world—with others.
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Salt is a necessity of life and is a mineral that was used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification.
—John L. McKenzie (1910–1991), American Catholic theologian
In the ancient biblical world, salt was a precious commodity. It gave flavor and zest to food; it served as an important preservative; salt also made people thirst for something more. Jesus wanted His disciples to give flavor and zest to the world through His teaching; to preserve the truth as He proclaimed it to the world; to make the world thirst for more. … If we do this as His disciples, we, too, will also be “light of the world.” Being the light of the world means, for Christians, spreading everywhere the light that comes from on high. It means fighting darkness due to evil and sin and often caused by ignorance, prejudice, and selfishness. The more we look on the face of Jesus, like an impressionist painting, the more light we see and the more we are transfigured by it. By their deeds the disciples are to influence the world for good.
—Thomas Rosica (b. 1959), CEO of Canada’s Salt + Light Television network
He who stays not in his littleness loses his greatness.
—Saint Francis de Sales (1567–1622)
As salt seasons food by being lightly scattered upon it, so too Christians season the earth by being scattered throughout the various nations of the earth. By living in accordance with God’s way of life, Christians also preserve the earth by slowing the decay of morals in the society around them.
—Taken from the Wiki Answers website
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