As I pointed out in a previous post about Matthew 5:13, three properties of salt stand out to me.
- Salt makes a person thirsty
- Adds flavor
- Works as a preservative; it fights decay
It seems to me that all three aspects of being salt need to be in operation.
But salt also stings when it gets into wounds.
“If salt gets into a wound, it hurts, and if God’s children get amongst those who are “raw” towards God—every immoral person is an open wound towards God, their presence hurts.” – Oswald Chambers
I was trying to recall the name of the red/orange stuff that got put on scrapes when I was a kid. The internet reminded me that it was called Mercurochrome. Hopefully, its power to disinfect was in proportion to the amount of sting it inflicted because the sting of the cure seemed as bad or worse than the scrape you got in the first place.
Are Christians called to be Mercurochrome for the society around us? I’m not so sure that we are. Yes, we have the Truth in Jesus. Yes, Scripture speaks to the issues of the day, but I don’t see Jesus adding to the sting of the hurting people around him. Or, going back to the idea of salt, I don’t see Jesus rubbing salt in the wounds he encountered.
I don’t think that I can overemphasise the fact that hurting people, sinners, the dregs of society loved Jesus and Jesus loved them. Jesus did not compromise on the truth to get the people to love him. Nor did Jesus allow them to remain in their mess.
So if we use Jesus as our example of what it means to be salt and light, I think that we will have a better handle on what Jesus told us in Matthew 5:13.
I am reminded of how Jesus described his ministry in Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (ESV)
These verses should inform our idea of what it means to be salt in the world. Do we work for economic justice? Do we work to liberate the oppressed? Do we work to bring physical and spiritual healing to those we encounter? Do we proclaim the good news of Jesus?
Yes, the church has done these things throughout the centuries, but we have also done our share of finger wagging and condemnation of those around us. We have also at times poured salt into wounds and causing more hurt than healing.
Perhaps if we did more of the things that Jesus speaks of in Luke 4:18-19 (quoting from Isaiah 61: 1-2) we would be more attractive to those outside the church.