Salt of the Earth

“If you salt the water, you won’t taste the salt. But if you don’t, you’ll know something’s not quite right.”

Sage advice about pasta water from Mr. Richard, one of my friendly cooking gurus.

Image courtesy of pakorn /
Image courtesy of pakorn /
It’s the same with the bread we baked up today. If we’d salted it, it wouldn’t have been salty bread, it just would have tasted more like bread. Instead, it was just sort of flat. A floury delivery unit for the dip.

Salt, rightly done, doesn’t make you taste the salt, it makes you taste more of what you’ve added it to.

What if Jesus was after something like this?

“You are the salt of the earth.”

Too often those of us who live on the Evangelical side of the fence envision the message of Jesus as world-denying; or, worse yet, world-escaping.

What’s our job then? To call people out of the world, to get them to leave it behind!

What if, instead, our job as followers of Jesus is to make the world more of what it was supposed to be in the first place?

What if salting the earth isn’t preserving it (just barely!) from destruction at the hands of an angry God, nor being so entirely other in everything we do that people want to suck the salt lick all day?

What if what we’re supposed to do is neither world-denying nor, to be sure, na├»vely world-affirming, but instead robustly world-redeeming? What if our calling is to imagine engaging the world so as to make the good things of the world better versions of themselves?

What if the point of shining on the earth wasn’t always to be a beacon to summon people away, but also, and perhaps more basically, to show people who they could truly are, or who we truly could be if we were willing to come in out of the dark?

What if the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus meant not only “losing our life” but entailed a “losing your life for My sake and the Gospel” in order to actually find it?

And what if that “it” was, recognizably, your life?

“You are the salt of the earth.” Might we envision a salty vocation to make the goods of the world with which we come into contact better versions of what they were always meant to be?

6 thoughts on “Salt of the Earth”

  1. One of my friends preached on this subject and made an interesting point about the passage. When you use too much salt, it ruins the food. He continued to make the point that, as Christians, we like to gather together and stay that way, concentrating all of our “salt” and, well, ruining the flavor of life (or something to that effect).

  2. I had never thought of it that way before. I appreciate how that way of imagining the function of salt fits so well with the restorative and shalom-seeking part of redemption. Meanwhile, I also remember that a pinch of salt makes chocolate-chip cookies that much more wonderful–but it’s possible to overdo it! Our “salty vocation” still has to follow the right recipe, so as not to overpower.

  3. I’ve said before that salt makes food taste more like itself, which is your question: “Might we envision a salty vocation to make the goods of the world with which we come into contact better versions of what they were always meant to be?”

    Love love this thought.

  4. This is covenant speech. He is saying that his listeners are the living embodiment of God’s faithfulness. They are God’s living covenant to the World. This isn’t moralizing speech. He is speaking of the function of (then) faithful Israel (his listeners). See Matt 5:13-14, Is 42:6, Is 49:8, Lev 2:13, Nu 18:19, 2 Chr 13:5, 2 Cor 5:21

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