“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 underfoot” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples in the gospel of Matthew.
He was speaking in terms that would have been understood clearly by His audience. The people of that time and location would have had a huge supply of salt from the Dead Sea. They didn’t have the option of going down to the local Safeway and buying a box of commercially refined salt. There was a massive hill of salt at the southwest corner of the Sea, and the people would travel down and collect enough to meet their needs for a long time.
Because it was crudely collected and distilled, dirt, bits of rocks, and shells were gathered along with the salt. If the supply of salt got wet, it dissolved, leaving behind only the part that was useless for preserving or flavouring food. Once most of the salt content was gone, it couldn’t be used for much of anything any more. There was still enough salinity that discarding it in a field or a garden would have ruined the soil and affected the crop, so people would have tossed it into the street to be trampled beneath the feet of the pedestrians.
Salt was much more than just a seasoning and a preservative. It was also often used as a form of currency, and a symbol of a covenant. The book of Leviticus commanded the Hebrew people to always add salt to their offerings as a covenant before God. Numbers 18 talks about “an everlasting covenant of salt” between future generations and the Lord. 2 Chronicles 13 specifies that the kingship of Israel was given to David and his descendants forever “by a covenant of salt”. The covenant of salt seems to refer to a valuable and lasting agreement that goes on forever.
Our bodies require sodium to survive, and it must come from the foods we eat. Without salt, we would die.
Jesus was warning His disciples, and not just the twelve that were with Him, but all of us who claim to be His followers, that we have a responsibility to be effective and to uphold the covenant we entered into with God when we became His disciples. If we allow our Christianity to become diluted and watered down with compromise, lack of zeal, a failure to grow spiritually, abdication of our responsibility to seek God’s will in our lives, and a rejection of our call to holy living, we become ineffective and spiritually worthless, and it is as if we have thrown our salvation into the street to be trampled by the feet of the world.
We are the salt of the earth. We are not called to fit in, we are called to stand out. We are not called to dissolve and be diluted, we are called to season and improve. Stay salty, Christians.