I have never canned pickles before. But I am planning a first assay into this delicate art this week. So I have been reading. I would have started last week, but I discovered I didn’t have the right kind of salt. Turns out there is a whole world of salt-related knowledge I have never encountered. Speaking of salt…
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses it saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
A strange saying to those that dwell in the supermarket days of hygienically sealed fine ground table salt. How does salt lose its saltiness? Is that even a thing? Or is Jesus just hyperbolizing?
Turns out it is a thing. Salt in its large crystalline form was much more commonly available back in the day; you could save a few pennies by grinding it up yourself. So there is the stuff in big hunks, out in the open air of the marketplace. But too much moisture, either from precipitation or relative humidity, and the rock salt loses its saltiness.
Now knowing this, it is also helpful to understand with Jesus’ saying that there is a gradation of lose involved here. Salt that is pure and dry was and is sold for human consumption. But salt that has suffered some, but not total, loss still has its uses. It can preserve meat, you can feed it to you live stock. At the bottom of the scale, you can even use it as an accelerator of decomposition in manure. But as Jesus notes, at the very bottom, when all the salt has left and you are left with rock, it is little more than gravel.
Now that we understand the picture, mark the analogy O Christ follower. There is something in you, the life of Christ, that can work as seasoning, preservative and a maturing factor in this world. But there is a way of existing in this world that will leach it out of you until you are a worthless dry husk. Then, in the memorable paraphrase of Luke 14:34&35, Francis Chan states: “If [Jesus] had a pile of crap, and you were on it, [he’d] be like: ‘Get off it. You’re ruining my crap.'”
The Sermon On The Mount cuts right to the heart. Be done with empty outward religion. Rather give heed to that which distinguishes between light and darkness in you, salt and the bland rest of the world. Keep keen the edge of Christ as it carves Its way through your life.
God in my living, there in my breathing
God in my waking, God in my sleeping
God in my resting, there in my working
God in my thinking, God in my speaking
Christ in me, the hope of glory
You are everything