"If the salt should lose its savor . . ."
Over the last couple of days I've been blogging about salt, and about some of the connotations of that word for people in the Middle-East, both in Biblical times and even today. And by the way, there are some pretty interesting websites about salt. One that's particularly interesting is from The Salt Institute. And Mark Kurlansky has written a book called, Salt: A World History. Here's the description from amazon.com:
Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky's kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.I may have to get hold of that one: after I'm done reading the three or four I'm working on right now.
But I didn't want to leave this subject without looking once again at Paul's instruction to the Colossians:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Col. 4:6Now, it looks to me as if Paul is explaining, with the phrase "seasoned with salt," his use of the word grace. Or, as Matthew Henry comments: "Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse, makes it savoury, and keeps it from corrupting." And I think if we hark back to yesterday's post, where I explained that the sharing of salt was symbolic of a covenant of hospitality, then I think it becomes clear that our conduct and interaction toward "those on the outside," that is unbelievers, must live up to a very high standard. The offer of salt, the instruction to season all our interactions with others with the salt of hospitality, of graciousness, is a seriously high standard. It is the grace-filled standard of Jesus himself.
Now, we're usually okay with this, we Christians, until we run up against behavior that is clearly sinful. I know a man, a dear Christian brother, who cannot find it within himself to be gracious with homosexuals. This is not an uncommon problem among Christians. This fellow finds it necessary to "confront" the sinner with his or her sin. But I don't consider this sort of thing gracious, hospitable, or effective. These words are not, in my opinion, seasoned with the salt of kindness, which is a standard even many Pagan people hold high.
Now, I realize that this is a complex issue, and my intention is not to tackle the homosexuality problem in this post (or any other). All I really want to suggest is that we take this standard very seriously and check our own behavior against it. One way to do this is to compare our behavior with the standard that Jesus laid out in the beatitudes, which is where the Savior spells out what it means to be "the salt of the earth."
Why is all this so important? Jesus answers, "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." (Mark 9:50) And Peter, for his part, adds: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . . ." (1 Peter 3:15)
Lord, let me be salt today. Let there be the savor of salt in all my conversation. Let graciousness, gentleness, and respect be the marks of my faith today, the outworking of what you have placed in me. Even from the Cross you offered peace. By your grace, and in your name, may I also be gracious. Amen.