A21   SALT

St. Matthew 5.vv.13-16

~ "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven". ~

To be called 'the salt of the earth' is a compliment. In ancient days salt was described as "theion", that is "divine". Why, one might wonder, was it accorded such value? The answer is that it had such important properties. Jesus said his disciples were the salt of the earth. The qualities that he had in mind were those of his contemporaries to whom salt was a most important commodity.

First salt denoted PURITY : Its glistening whiteness appealed to the ancients; the sacrifices of Israel were always offered with salt. Nowadays there is such a lowering of standards in social, political and economic life, through ignorance and wickedness. Honesty, diligence and high standards of morality are in some instances looked upon as outmoded values. Christians, however, are bidden to be pure in thought, word and deed. We should never compromise with impurity. Christians should protest against "smut" and blasphemy in the written word and upon the TV screen. We cannot opt out of the world, but we can keep ourselves unstained by the world. We can and must uphold the standards of purity.

Secondly salt is a PRESERVATIVE : In the days before the use of freezers and fridges, salt was used as the main preservative for food. Christians should have an antiseptic influence on life, preserving values and standards, cleansing, defeating corruption, helping others to be good, speaking out against evil, upholding good causes and never holding our peace out of fear or favour.

Thirdly salt gives FLAVOUR : Many foods are bland and tasteless without the addition of salt. Life for many is an insipid affair. Christianity should be to life as salt is to food. The tragedy is that all too often Christianity is associated with kill-joy experiences. The world may be bored and weary, but we should ever strive to discover lost radiance and the sparkle of true faith, for the Christian is the only person who has any right to hold an optimistic outlook on life, if we believe and trust in God's goodness and his sovereign power to bring success out of failure and joy out of sorrow.

It is unlikely that any day passes when we do not place the salt upon the table. If we believe the words of Jesus, each time we do this it could well be an opportunity to remind ourselves of what he expects and hopes of us

A similar action in everyday life could well remind us that we are called to be lights in the world. Jews both ancient and modern, following the practices of their forebears, touch the "mezuzah" on the doorposts of their homes as they enter or leave their homes. This little cylinder, containing a tiny portion of the Law, serves not as a piece of magic but as an aid to memory ("the Lord bless you in your going out and in your coming in"). Even so, we might in switching on and off our lights remind ourselves that having received the light of Christ we are bidden to shine as lights in the world to the glory of God.

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