Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
When salt is around, it makes its presence known. The bite of its flavor is unmistakable. Put some on a wound or a sore, and you will feel its sting in a hurry. It doesn’t do its work in secret.
I don’t believe the point of Jesus’ illustration is hard to understand. When God takes believers in his hands and rubs them in or sprinkles them around, he uses you to change the world. No matter who you are or what you are doing, your very presence here helps preserve our world. As long as the Lord sees believers here, as long as they have opportunity to help make more believers, he has a reason to keep this planet running.
You remember what happened in Noah’s time, when the world almost ran out of such human salt. When all but 8 people in the world had turned away from God, he wiped it out with a flood and started over. Your presence as a believing child of God is sparing millions or even billions of unbelievers from an early date in God’s court of law on Judgment Day. Your life of love and witness may also preserve them forever by preserving them from a guilty sentence when that day finally does come.
Jonas Saulk may have found meaning for his life in developing a vaccine for polio. Neil Armstrong may have found meaning for his life in bringing space exploration to the surface of the moon. Bill Gates may find meaning for his life in controlling a majority of the computers on the planet. But in the eternal scheme of things, do their accomplisments compare with the simple way in which the Lord is already using you to change the world?
In connection with this, Jesus issues a warning. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” The taste and effects of salt are unmistakable. But what if there is no bite or zing? In that case, the salt isn’t really salt anymore.
If you aren’t influencing the world as a child of God, you aren’t really a child of God. Your lack of fruit betrays a lack of faith. Then we aren’t good for anything. Then all God can do is throw us out.
Before we get any wrong impressions, let’s make a few things clear. Work in the church is one way we can serve as salt. It is a wonderful way in which we can serve as salt. But it is not the only way we serve as salt. The way we do our homework, serve our employer, or do our chores around the house also season this world with the gospel. The choice of words we use, the way we react when others hurt us, the help we offer to someone in need are all part of our Christian witness.
But if we refuse to serve alongside our fellow believers in the church when we are able to do so, we are losing our zing. If we will not defend our faith, if we try only to blend into our world, if we hope no one will ever notice we are different, we have lost that bite that makes us useful. The salt has lost its saltiness. Take warning from Jesus’ words, because our sinful flesh is constantly trying to make us bland, faithless, and useless to God.
That doesn’t mean that successfully changing our world makes us salty. Serving God’s kingdom and leading people to Jesus does not make us believers. But when we know by faith that God has made us his own children, then we are salt. Our lives make a difference. We live out our purpose and mission.
Let’s be thankful that God doesn’t say our sins could be forgiven, or might be forgiven, or should be forgiven. He promises us they are. Let’s be thankful that he doesn’t say that heaven could be ours, it might be ours, it should be ours. He promises us it is. Similarly, he doesn’t tell us that we could be salt, we might be salt, or we should be salt. He tells us we are. In bringing us to faith, this is what God has made us. We are salt, and may he shake and sprinkle, rub and pour us out, so that with us he can change the world.