Monday, October 29, 2018

Salt for Kingdom

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Luke 14:34).

As Jesus came to the end of His challenge to His followers, He told them they needed to be salty. Though salt was used as a spice in the ancient world, its primary use was as a preservative. It kept food from spoiling.

The salt of antiquity was not of the same degree of refinement that we have today. Over the course of time, because of impurities and chemical changes, salt could lose its savor. Once that happened, there was no way to restore it. It was neither good as a spice nor as a preservative.

Moreover, said Jesus, “It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (Luke 14:35). In the ancient world, tiny amounts of salt would be added to the manure pile to help the process of decay to produce fertilizer. But why would you put it in the soil? Conquering armies would salt the earth to make sure that nothing could grow in the soil. Thus, salt was also an instrument of destruction. True disciples, said Jesus, are like salt. They taste good to God. They nurture and preserve what is pure and true in society. And they bring righteous judgment upon that which is evil.

Thus, Jesus ends with one more military image. His disciples are to be warriors committed to fighting through the entire battle. How many people have come into the church, stood before congregations promising to be faithful, and then have fallen away? How many such Christians only attend worship twice a year or refuse to tithe?

Jesus does not consider this apathetic approach to Christianity authentic discipleship. He calls His people to a total, reckless abandon in personal commitment. Some might regard this as fanaticism. The difference, however, between Christian commitment and fanaticism is at the point of sobriety. Christian commitment in contrast to fanaticism is sober, enduring, and well grounded. Like the salt to which Jesus refers, it preserves the church and the world.

Some in the church prefer a saccharin substitute for salt as a controlling image of the Christian life. Such sweeteners, however, may promote decay. Thinking of relationships, decide where you can effectively act as preserving salt.