Pass the Salt – Matthew 5:13-16

Salt.  If you are like me you love it.  I will put salt on just about anything.  There is something about salt that just makes things taste better.  Long ago, even back to ancient biblical times, salt was a known preservative and had a very high value placed upon it.  This seasoning that we hardly think twice about using has been a major contributor to feuds and even wars all throughout history.

Salt is referenced in scripture many more times than I had remembered. Doing a search in my concordance I figured that “salt” would show up in the gospels and maybe in a couple of the apostle Paul’s writings at most, but it also shows up in the Old Testament.  It is in Leviticus, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, and several others.

I have heard, as I am sure that many of you have, that the purpose of the parable by Jesus in Mathew chapter 5 was to tell us that we are to be the flavoring in this world.  We are the ones who have been given a calling to see that others know Jesus and that we are that flavor, that taste of Jesus that draws people, causing them to “thirst” for him.  Likewise, looking at the same passage in Mathew we are to be the light of the world.  We are to be the ones that shine brightly for all to see in the dark world that we live in. But what if the idea of salt is much bigger than this.  What if the idea of bringing some flavor to the world was just a small part of it?  What if Jesus intended these words to mean something greater and far more meaningful?  What if?

Let’s take a look at Mark 9:42-50, another passage that references salt.  In this passage, Jesus is spelling out, in graphic detail, the importance of making sure that you take any measure necessary to avoid sin.  Now obviously he is not suggesting that we go out and maim ourselves because sin is much deeper than our hands or feet or eyes, it is a heart issue.  But at the very end of this passage he says; “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Now why on earth does he end this section with this sentence?  What does he mean by telling us to “have salt in ourselves”, and what relation does this have with taking whatever means necessary to avoid and keep sin from our lives?

Here’s what I would like us to think about: To have salt in our lives means that we are to have Jesus in our lives, thus the flavor.  But more importantly, we are to have an allegiance to Christ, and Christ alone.  We are to have a wholehearted commitment to him as his disciples and followers.  The NIV Study Bible note on this verse states that the distinctive mark of discipleship, typified by salt, is allegiance to Jesus and the gospel.

So what does allegiance to Christ look like?  Does that mean that I say my pledge of allegiance to Christ every day before I go off to school or work just like I did when I was in grade school with the flag? Of course not, but to have an allegiance is to have the mindset of a disciple.  To understand allegiance you must also strive for a life of obedience.  To be a disciple and to have salt in our lives is to be obedient.  We have an understanding of the fact that God’s ways are much higher and more perfect than anything that we could cook up on our own.  It is the ability to look at my life as not my own but Christ’s through me.

We need to get past this idea that we, as Christians, are just “different” people in this world, who add our own flavor, and begin to see that we are the disciples of Christ and that we obey his commands. Not because we are forced to but because they are true and righteous and they bring a life of freedom and life everlasting.  We follow because Christ is leading, and he is where our hope lies.   We are not the leaders and never should have been, yet that is the role we place ourselves in more often than not. God’s desire is for us to be filled with a passion for him, a desire to know him, and understand him. So much so that we are obedient to what his word tells us.  He wants you to know that the reason he desires our obedience is not because he is on a power trip, or that he is trying to steal all the fun things in life, but because through obedience we can bring flavor to the world in a way it has never known because the “salt” inside us is worth fighting for and is the most valuable thing anyone could ever have. More than that, it is the good news of the gospel, and it is free.

Final Thought:  Ask yourselves this. Do you know Christ, really?  Or are you caught up in “doing” things for him while dictating for yourself where you are going in life? It is easy to be a moral person who tries to live the right way and do the right things, but if you don’t Know Christ, are you really that salty?