It gives flavor to food and, in small quantities, is essential to life. But salt can also be abrasive; it can poison and kill, and if poured onto an open wound can cause excruciating pain. And yet, this is what Christ chose to call us in Matthew 5:13.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.” (NLT)
In a world full of hurting people, Christ called us salt. Sure, we may be able to give flavor to the world with our own unique personalities, but we can also be abrasive and rub people the wrong way; we can very easily cause more pain to those that are already hurting.
My husband comes from the beautiful island of Bermuda, and he tells tales of when growing up he would cut himself or end up with road rash after numerous accidents, only to be told by family members, “Just go for a swim. The salt will clean it and help it to heal quickly.” And they were not wrong, except it wasn't the salt on its own that cleaned and healed his wounds. Pouring pure salt on to an open wound will dry it out, and it will burn, but a dry wound heals slower than a moist one. Rather than helping to heal, pure salt would hinder the healing process. Instead, it was the combination of water and salt that helped his wounds to heal. This principle exists in hospitals. When a doctor wishes to clean an external wound, it is common that he will use a saline solution because Salt + Water cleans and heals.
“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) – John 7:38-39 (NLT)
Christ offers, to those who will follow him water, Living Water. Christ offers us the Holy Spirit. If Salt + Water has the ability to heal the external wounds of people, then how much more so should the salt of the earth, when mixed with the Living Water, have the ability to help heal the emotional wounds of this world? How much more so should people who come immerse themselves in our communities expect to find healing and restoration, just as my husband did when he went swimming as a child?
However, the creation of saline is not as simple as adding an arbitrary amount of salt to an arbitrary amount of water; too much salt can burn and too much salt can kill. For the effects of too much salt on an environment, one need just look at the Dead Sea in Israel. The Dead Sea does not have enough fresh water flowing into it, and as a result, the water evaporates to the tune of millions of liters per year, causing the concentrations of salt build up to poison every living thing that lived within it. This should serve as a warning to us that every day we need to take on new water—Living Water. Daily, we need to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives in order that we do not become toxic or abrasive to those around us. Daily, we need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit so that those who encounter us in our daily lives or in our churches do not find our presence harmful, but healing.
Daily we must be renewed.
Tabitha Purple is currently serving as a pastor in the Netherlands Union. She also blogs on www.pastorpurple.blogspot.com where she frequently discusses practical theology and life with a creative emphasis.
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com / ettina82
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