The Man In The Mirror
By Eunice Tate
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? You must have the qualities of salt among yourselves and live in peace with each other” (Mark 9:50 NLT)
The time has come once again for me to exercise my right to vote, but the choices are so flavorless that I am tempted to relinquish that right this time around. Then I thought of the indignities endured, the blood that was shed, the people who were beaten and jailed, and the human lives lost so I could have this right that was once denied. Hence, I have had to ask myself some hard questions about personal responsibilities so that I could rise above the arguments, the insults, the lies, and the fear mongering from the political parties. But during my long decision-making process, one point kept coming back to me, forcing me to consider the scriptures and examine some long-standing beliefs and my own mindset. In the preceding scripture, Jesus is clear. The meaning is explicit. There is never anything ambiguous when God speaks to us, and the same is to be said about the meaning and application of salt and light in the life of believers.
As Christians, we are all called to salt the world with the message of Christ by the life we live, who we represent, or by what we feed the world. Christ is to be visible not only in our actions, but also in the words we speak, because we are the light in this dark world. Still, from time to time, we have all fallen short and have become tasteless to the world. In Luke 14:35 Jesus warns, “Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” But I find it to be especially troubling when we purposely present ourselves to the world as a Christ follower simply for gain, while taking no responsibility for the quality, fruit or accuracy of the message we are projecting and the people we may be influencing.
I am not in a position to cast the first stone, but it seems the deliberately distorted ideology held by some candidates who confessed to be Christians might have successfully transferred to segments of society. It seems those who should be holding the brightest light to the world are pretending they have not seen or recognize the enemy lurking in the darkness. The ones that suggest faith is a personal and private thing that is acceptable to everyone’s interpretation, belief and practice. In other words, whatever one determines in his mind to be truth is indeed acceptable to God because the grace of God abounds without measure or accountability. But even more disturbing is the implied notion that if it helps one’s political agenda, social status, economical well being, and achieve their purpose, it is fine with God. Why? Because when all is said and done, words are just words, delivered for a cause without responsibility or accountability. However, as Christians, we must first understand and appreciate the value of salt to understand why Jesus chose to use the analogy.
THE VALUE OF SALT: We know that salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium and chloride and is used for seasoning and preserving foods. We will also agree that without salt much of what we eat would be tasteless. However, too much salt can be unfavorable and may create health related problems. But beyond foods, many of us have not given much thought to the appeal or value of salt in societies and the various cultures of the world. Yet in ancient Middle Eastern cultures, it is said that an agreement was usually sealed with a gift of salt to show the strength and permanence of the contract. In Leviticus 2:13 we see that The Mosaic Law required that all offerings presented by the Israelites contain salt. It was customary for Greek slave traders to bartered slaves for salt; giving rise to the expression that someone was “not worth his salt.”
Christ used salt as a metaphor to illustrate how believers should operate among each other and interact with the world, so that we may positively influence them into the path of the kingdom. If we lose the seasoning and aroma of Christ, then we are of no use to anyone and we have no influence on the world. The flavor we bring should be distinct and obvious in influencing changes towards godliness, holiness and righteousness.
Salt is a preservative. Simply put, it stops foods from rotting. So we should be counteracting, reducing, stabilizing, neutralizing, and offsetting moral decay. But before we can season the world, the presence of salt must be evident in our life. Love is salt! Kindness is salt! How we treat others is salt! In Matthew 5:13 Jesus told believers, “You are the salt and light of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salt again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless”.
OUR LIGHT SHOULD BE SEEN. Jesus went on to say, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hillside that cannot be hidden. In Luke 11:33 Christ said, “No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” This lamp is Christ’s presence! If Christ is in us, we cannot hide Him! Verse 35 warns, “Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.” Light and darkness cannot exist together. It is either dark or light.
CHRISTIANITY IS A LIFESTYLE. It is not something we put on when it suits our purpose, and take off when it’s inconvenient. If we are Christian, we are at home, on the job and in public office. It is not a Sunday morning event only. Jesus uses salt to demonstrate qualities that should be found in believers, such as evidence of God’s faithfulness, sharing His flavor and light with others, and evidence of neutralizing moral decay in the world. If we could understand that the gift of God’s presence in our lives is our gift to the world, then we would magnify God by our words, our love and our attitude. But if we live in darkness we become useless and in fact do more harm than good by becoming a stumbling block.