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Friday, May 16, 2014

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:11–16
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“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 in 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. (NRSV)

So, in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says something that, when you think about it, is one of the weirdest examples he uses about anything. It’s about salt.

“If the 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.”

Really, does salt go bad? Do you have to throw it out? Jesus says this like, “You know, like when your salt goes bad and you throw it out?” Like this happens all the time. And no one seems to think it’s odd, no one says, “Uh, Jesus? Could you explain that thing about the salt?” And they should, because in reality the salt thing never happens. Ever.

Salt tastes salty because of the presence of an alkali metal, sodium. The only way for it to lose its taste is for it to lose its sodium, in which case it’s not “salt” at all. So what is Jesus talking about, anyway?

Well, bearing in mind that no one in his audience knows anything about chemistry, it’s pretty safe to assume that he’s talking about something other than composition and taste. Salt is critical to life. When the levels of salt in the bloodstream drop, serious health problems can occur: vomiting, confusion, seizures, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver failure, congestive heart failure, coma, and death. Salt’s role is a lot more important than making the soup taste good.

Jesus is telling us that we have a critical role to play in sustaining life and that when we fail in that role, the quality of life is diminished to an alarming if not fatal degree. It’s a challenge—not about saltiness but about usefulness; not about who you are but about what you do.

Faith is active. When we go passive, that’s when we lose our saltiness.

Lord, remind us that faith is always in motion, always working for good. Make us useful in the world, that all people may thrive. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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