Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the Earth”
Right here in Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that they are “the salt of the earth”. We hear this expression a lot as Christians and most of us think we know what it means. Recently, I had a discussion with a friend, and he encouraged me to look into the uses of salt. He made one glaring comment that both offended and moved me, but I will save that for the end.
In the 1960s Lay’s Potato Chips began an advertising campaign around their slogan – “Betcha can’t eat just one!”. This was very clever, and it worked. You know why? It is because their chips are salty, and salt gives you a feeling that you want more. This is the direct correlation we usually get to our Christian walk and although we may look at some other uses for salt, we cannot discredit this one just because we have already heard it before. As a Christian does your walk bring people closer to Christ or push them away? It is a simple yet thought inducing question.
If you truly investigate your lifestyle what answer would you have to give? Remember that the Bible tells us that we are either for God or against God, so it would be logical to assume that you are either drawing people closer to Christ or pushing them further away. What if we were as confident in our witness as Lay’s is in their potato chips? Imagine looking at a non-believer and saying “I bet there is no way you can resist wanting to know more about the God I serve”
I wish had the faith in the irresitablity of my testimony that Lay’s has in their potato chips! “Betcha can’t eat just one”
Salt – More Than A Seasoning
As I took a dive into the world of salt I realized that salt is a necessary ingredient in fertilizer. Plants get most of their salt from nutrients found in the earth’s soil. I found this to be pretty interesting because Jesus said: “you are the salt of the earth”. What if He intended us to be the fertilizer that is found in the world that encourages those around us to grow?
As I dug further into this thought I found that Christianity Today published an article in 2016 title “You Are The Manure of the Earth”. In this article, it is highlighted that in the times of Jesus, when the statement was made, using salt to fertilize soil was a very common practice and this meaning would have probably been immediately realized by those receiving the message. Here is the first step in understanding this idea – We have to get out of our own way. When you or I hear the word salt we immediately think of table salt but in reality, there are many, many other kinds of salts. In the times of the disciples and Jesus, many of these salts were used in fertilizing the soil. As I have said before, we must look at Scripture in a way that allows us to see what it was saying when it was written or when the words were spoken. It is very possible that Jesus was not referring to the table salt but instead of being fertilizer.
Clarity in Scripture
Another trick when looking at Scripture is to examine the entire context. So. Let’s look at a couple of verses for clarity:
Luke 14:34-35 – “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”
Now if you think of salt as that stuff we put on our fries then this makes little sense. If you think of the many types of salt and how it could be used as a fertilizer this verse now makes perfect sense. This also gives us insight to what Jesus was referencing when He said “You are the salt of the earth”. We are to foster growth in the world as salt fosters growth in the soil and if the Christian community loses it’s saltiness what will keep that growth alive?
Salt in Agriculture
“If the agricultural use of salt makes barren soil easier to till, facilitates the absorption of other vital nutrients by plants, and maintains and enhances the fertilizing capacity of manure, then Jesus is calling us to something extraordinary and countercultural. If we are truly supposed to be salt in the agricultural sense, that means we are supposed to get messy and go where nothing is growing right now. Instead of going where things are bright, new, and exciting, we have a call to explore opportunities that will probably not make sense in the eyes of “normal” people.” –Anthony Bradley “You Are the Manure of the Earth”, Christianity Today, 2016. (Https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october/you-are-manure-of-the-earth.hml)
As I am sitting here writing this, it has gone an entirely different direction than I thought I was going in. Thank you, God, for allowing me to live in Your Grace and directing my thoughts. I feel like this is enough for today, I will save my thoughts on salt as a cleansing agent for another time.
I almost forgot my friend’s comment that was both offensive and moving. As a Christian, you may have to read this twice and then read it again to fully understand it. I know I wrestled with it for some time.
Thank you, Dustin, for these wonderful words:
“Salt is useless unless it comes into contact with the thing which it is intended to enhance.”
Christians inside the church building are not salt, we only become the salt when we get out and get involved with those around us.