Salt of the earth is a pretty common phrase, or at least it has been. We think of salt as something of a commodity, readily obtained at the grocery store right down aisle 4, across from the flour and yeast. Salt is always there and readily available so when we hear Jesus say we are the salt of the earth, we usually think he is talking about something along the lines of your average working person that makes the world function. Not the rich and famous kinds of folk that seem to garner a lot of attention but the regular everyday folks that go to work, study their homework, pay their taxes, raise their families and get up in the morning to start all over again. That’s not a bad way to look at it but there is more to the story.[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/240049-what-s-salt-got-to-do-with-it.mp3]
(text of the sermon, more or less, continues)
We think of salt as something that sits on the dinner table and is handy for putting on our food to enhance the flavor. Many, many things are improved by putting salt on it. Potato chips would be just another cracker without the salt. Popcorn just isn’t the same without the salt. And salt really does justice to fresh sliced tomatoes right out of the garden. And without salt, bacon would just be… meat.
But in Jesus’ day salt was more important as a preservative than a condiment sitting on the table. For this reason, salt was extremely valuable in society. It allowed for food to be stored without going bad. Always a good thing. This puts a little different take on what Jesus said. Our mindset frames salt as something ordinary and common. Well loved perhaps but ordinary and common nonetheless. Jesus means something more when he says we are the salt of the earth.
One thing he is referencing is that we have value. As people created by God, we have value. Every one of us. I don’t remember where I heard this but think about this. You have never looked into the eyes of someone that didn’t matter to God. Each and every one of us has value. To God and to one another.
Our value to one another is manifest in our weekly gatherings we call worship. The primary purpose we worship is to give God our praise and thanksgiving. That is something we could be, and should be, doing every day not just for an hour a week on Sunday and occasionally on Wednesday nights.
Even so, there is something to be said for gathering together for worship. We are the Body of Christ, something that we can’t do on our own. It is kind of like clapping with one hand. It just doesn’t have the same effect. Our personal devotional time, our time reading the Bible and all those moments when we experience God’s presence in a sunset or when we witness an incredible act of kindness or generosity are important to our faith life.
But they don’t replace our need to be the body of Christ together, worshiping as one. Gathering together to hear God’s word and to come to the communion table. To sing and pray together. To affirm the faith we share with everyone gathered in worship all over the world when we confess our faith with the creeds. We’re in this together and it takes both hands to clap in such a way that anyone else notices.
As salt of the earth, we are also responsible for preserving the faith, our faith and the faith of those around us. Faith is a gift from God. It is not some good idea that we have cleverly thought up and have around because it is kind of fun. Faith is a gift that comes from God.
But like any gift, we can set it aside. We can put it in the closet and let it sit there until we need it. We can treat it like an ugly Christmas sweater that we put on during Christmas festivities and then put it away until Christmas next year.
Or, we can take it out and wear it like that beloved sweatshirt that is the most comfortable thing ever. In wearing that gift, we are part of preserving our faith in Christ, for ourselves and for others.
Preserving our faith in Christ for ourselves and for others isn’t worrying about what color the carpet in the fellowship hall should be (a story I’ve actually seen). It isn’t worrying about the color of much of anything.
Preserving our faith in Christ is about being intentional in how we live and share our faith. Preserving our faith in Christ is about how others know that we actually do believe that God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ, we actually do believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and we actually do believe that Jesus rose from the dead three days later and in Christ Jesus we to have the promise and hope of resurrection.
Every church I’ve ever spoken with or heard about wants to get new people and young people in the door. That’s a given, every church wants that. The harder question to answer is if you are salt of the earth, what are you doing to preserve faith for those around you and for those who will follow?
Will you try things like Faith Acts In The Home (FAITH5) where you share, read, talk, pray and bless those around your every night? Will you try things like Prime Time faith formation and share the wisdom of the elders with the wonder of the child? Will you come to Coffee and Conversations or Beer Study and Bible Tasting?
Will you be the salt of the earth and bring Christ’s love to life?