“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matthew 5:13 ESV)
Jesus commanded us to be salt of the world. For quite some time in the past, I wondered why Jesus must use salt as an analogy. I was thinking that there must be a superior value contained in salt compared to other ingredients like sugar or pepper. Indeed, salt is important. It has many benefits and essential to human life. It is important for our cells to have a sufficient amount of salt in our body. In the Bible, salt is frequently discussed and used whether in ceremonial proceedings, a symbol of covenant or as a purifying agent.It signifies that the people were bound in a covenant with God, thus being purified by God. In the past, it is even used as an ingredient in fertiliser. It implies a message about how vital salt is to the people at that time. Even for today, salt is still crucial to our daily life. Arguably, it is one of the most important ingredient for both professional chefs and home cooks. Two main uses of salt comes to my mind.
Its cardinal purpose for seasoning puts it at the top of shopping list once it went empty on our kitchen cabinet. I once read in Dave Beran‘s highly informative Instagram post that he recalled on how he learned about the importance of salt in cooking. He shared a story about Grant Achatz, a famous chef from one of the most innovative restaurant in Chicago stresses out to his disciples about the importance of putting salt, salt and salt on every dish they cook up. Indeed, a salty food lefts us craving for more. I remember that I had a dish that I love so much during my college years. It is about a deep-fried and salty chicken ribs that holds a full punch of savoury flavour. I could eat that three to four times a week based on how savoury it is as a result of extensive seasoning.
Preservation is one of the most helpful technique in feeding the world. It saves a lot of food from being rotten by simple osmosis that dehydrate the free water molecules that necessary for bacterial growth, and thus helping to cut waste worth tons of food. It enables food to be stored and transported for distribution across the country to feed people. Imagine had no preservation techniques were available in this world. Perhaps, it would be so expensive and competitive to get food for all of us. Interestingly, some have said that the world “salary” gains its origin from the world salt as it was used for currency at the past, highlighting how important salt is.
Now back to the verse above. There is an interesting notion of Jesus’ message in regards to the saltiness of salt. We may ask, “Can salt really lose its flavour?”. It is known today in chemistry that salt, sodium chloride, has molecule structure that is extremely stable hence cannot lose its flavour. Jesus surely know this fact, but He must be referring to salt at that era. Albert Barnes offered a helpful insight into this message. At that time salt was quite impure. Sometimes, it was compounded with other earthly matters thus eroding its flavour or even could render it not suitable for consumption. Salt, before it was grounded into tiny little crystals that we see on our kitchen today, was mostly looked like a rock. The outer layer in which it was exposed to sun, rain or air looks perfectly like a salt, but absolutely tasted nothing. The inner part which is attached to the rock, still hold its saltiness.
It dawns upon me that how relevant this illustration to our life as follower of Jesus. Sometimes we wander far from Jesus. Whether we get distracted or forgot about how we need Jesus in our life, it exposes us to the impurities of the world. Wealth, greed, lust, anger, anxieties are all the contaminants that erodes the essence of Jesus in our heart. Hence, we losing the flavour of Jesus in our life.When our heart become polluted with those harmful substances, we would still look like his disciples by going to church, but absolutely left with nothing that can bless others. If the world cannot see Jesus in us, then what benefit we bring to other people as Jesus’ disciples?
I believe that how a Christian should be. Being savoury in front of other people. If we attached to Jesus, and be transformed to be more and more like Jesus day by day, we really would be like salt to other people. When others come into contact with us, they want us more. Not meaning that they should worship us, NO. It is more about how pleasurable and how we bring joy to others as we reflecting the personality of God through what we say, do and express to others. People can see whether we have or have not been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Our speech would be so pleasing seasoned in honesty, modesty and respect (Col 4:6). Our life would be helpful to other people, guiding and leading them to know more about Jesus, preserving them in holiness and dehydrate their desire of impurities as they see how desirable to have Jesus in our heart. Our heart would flow with act of service, considering others before ourselves in humility (Phil 2:3). Ou, what a beautiful life that is! It is time to reflect then, “How salty are we?” Amen.