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Is Your Salt Salty Enough?

On April 29, 2007 I heard Clay Farler (an elder in the Lord's church in Smithville, TN) say to high school graduates as he gave the "Senior Challenge" at a banquet in their honor that year — "You cannot escape being an example. The only question is what kind of example are you going to be?" That's Bible my friends! To be exact, that's Matthew 5:13 where Jesus taught His disciples it is impossible to escape having influence — You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." Every Christian has influence. Careful study of this verse shows that Jesus was telling each of His individual disciples that they are to be the salt of the earth. Every Christian preaches a sermon every day — with words and actions as well as attitudes. You may serve as a good example or a bad one — but you will serve as one or the other. It all depends on whether your salt stays salty or loses its flavor" and is then "good for nothing."

Jesus does some straight talk in this verse. He said that our salt (that is, our Christian example and influence for God and good), may lose its flavor. Christ taught that those who truly follow His teaching will stand out of the sinful crowd. He continued in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." This metaphor is a perfect compliment to the "salt of the earth" illustration. It reminds us Christians are to be different from the godless world around them. The church is called to be a radical counter-culture to the ways and values of a world that has strayed from God. Not passively aloof from the world or afraid of or isolated from it to the point we never engage it or serve it or seek to preach to it and redeem it. Not accommodated to and overcome by it. But rather, actively engaging it and acting upon it the same way salt does with food — preserve it and making it thirsty for Christ! And as light effects darkness — not by cursing it but by penetrating into it. But the salt of Christian example and influence can lose its flavor" and the light can be hid if it is "put under a basket," covered up with hypocrisy and low-down living. When that happens, the Christian, in Jesus own alarming words, becomes "good for nothing" so far as bringing glory to God. Words from Helmut Theilicke ought to make us think — "To look at some Christians, one would think their ambition is to be the honeypot of the world. They sweeten and sugar the bitterness of life with an all too easy conception of a loving GodBut Jesus did not say, 'You are the honeypot of the world.' He said, 'You are the salt of the earth.' Salt bites, and the unadulterated message of the judgement and grace of God has always been a biting thing" (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John R. W. Stott, p 166). The church blesses the world — not when she blends into it and is overcome by it — but when she stands out from it. How about it now — is there any bite in your Christianity? Is your salt salty enough, or more like a honeypot to a world rotting in sin?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ