Having Salt, Being Salt

The text for this morning’s church service was Matthew 5:13: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (KJV).

In light of this Thanksgiving season, the pastor was talking about turkeys.  You put a turkey in salt to bring out the good flavor of the turkey.  The turkey, however, is resistant to tasting good because it does not want to be eaten, and so it has evolved the ability to dump its tasty juices into a small place inside of it, such that most of its meat dries up.

I do not know if this is scientifically accurate, but I liked the pastor’s allegorization of this.  We are the salt of the earth.  We are supposed to bring out the good that is already in the world.  The pastor may believe that people are good, in the sense that they bear God’s image, yet they are broken.  He said, however, that the Gospel assures us that there is good in the world because God is there.

The pastor was talking about how those who have much for which to give thanks have an obligation to give back, to share some of what they have with others.  The pastor was also talking about how we each have something to contribute to the world: the world can benefit from what we have to offer.  This theme overlapped with the children’s part of the service.  The pastor was asking the kids how they can help, and who in their life helps them.  When the pastor asked the congregation how these kids help, some responded that the kids help just by being themselves—-by smiling, by being happy, by making people laugh, by being there for people to mentor.

In his sermon, the pastor said that we may feel like the turkey: we are resistant to tasting good because we do not want to be eaten.  I guess that he was likening this part of the analogy to people being broken and not feeling that they can be salt of the earth, that they can contribute positively to the world.  The pastor said that, if this is the case, then we can benefit from the salt of God’s grace.  God’s grace can bring out the good that is in us.  We were made in God’s image, after all, and Jesus went to the effort of coming and dying for us.

The pastor did not mention this passage, but Mark 9:50 came to my mind: “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (KJV).  In Mark 9:50’s version, salt is something that we have inside of ourselves, and it contributes to peace.  That overlaps with the pastor’s point about not just being salt, but receiving salt from God.

Ordinarily, when I hear sermons about obligations that I have as a Christian, I feel as if I am being told to climb Mount Everest—-either being told to do something that I cannot do that well, or being told to do something that I do not want to do.  I did not feel that way after listening to the sermon this morning.  I can think of ways that I already contribute to the world, bringing who I am and what I do to help bring good out of people, or at least to make life a little more comfortable to them.  And I am encouraged by this morning’s sermon to do that more: to let God bring out the good that is already in me, and to be a positive influence on the world—-by writing to bring people closer to God (while being honest about my doubts and avoiding inaccurate or pat-answer apologetics), by sharing my faith journey, by being friendly to people, and by doing work that can take a load off of other people’s minds.

Today, I am being salt by sharing my pastor’s message with you.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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