Last week, with the Beatitudes we discussed how Jesus pulled back the veil to show how the world really operates and will one day be restored. This week we are going to be discussing how the territories of the Kingdom are maintained. And while the verse we are looking at today is always paired with verses 14-16 that follow it, I believe that they have two separate, albeit related, messages. For next week we will discuss how the territories of the Kingdom are expanded.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Salt is a molecular compound that cannot technically lose its flavor, that is, unless it ceases to be salt altogether. That is the exact point that Jesus is making.
Salt is meant to be a blessing. I eat quite a bit of meat and vegetables. Meat usually has quite a bit of flavor on its own, especially if you eat the fattier cuts. Vegetables, on the other hand, I really only enjoy if they are doused in oil and seasoning. And with enough salt on brussels sprouts they even begin to taste good.
As salt does this to vegetables, so Christians are meant to be towards the world. The world itself is bland and disappointing food. It’s comparable to restaurant commercials that I used to see on TV back when I formerly watched it. Brands would dress up their dishes to appear delicious, but once you went to their store and ordered the meal, it often was a disappointment. Like a habituated Mid-Westerner who thinks they prefer tasteless food without seasoning, many heathens believe their godless way of life is optimal. In truth, however, they have simply never tasted ‘Salt’ before. If they were to taste salt in their mashed potatoes, they would never go back to their bland blob of root vegetables.
But, if salt is no longer salt, then it can no longer be a blessing. If you don’t believe me, then next time you grill some sirloin or saute´ some broccoli, add some all-purpose flour and let me know how it turns out. Likewise, if Christians cease to be pure then they can no longer be a blessing to the world. In fact, if Christians cease to be pure, they are no longer Christians.
Jesus is issuing a warning here to balance out the next three verses, which we will examine next week. He is telling us to maintain our purity. He is informing us that once we are compromised spiritually then it will not matter how much “good” we think are doing in the world. In the end, the endeavor that we may have intended for good will turn out to be worthless. Without purity, there is no “Good.”
Think of progressive churches. Most of them are completely corrupt and devoid of any basic Christian principle. They claim to be “Loving,” but the love they share is in the tradition of Katy Perry, not Jesus of Nazareth. They embrace and advocate for any number of perversions and sins that are specifically condemned in the scriptures. How did they become this way? Well, it’s a long story from a Church history perspective, but the concise version is that they cared more about being out in the world “making a difference” than they did about guarding their souls. They were Martha’s- more concerned with serving- when they should have been Mary’s who sat at the feet of Jesus humbly listening to what he had to say.
As Christians we are to have a profound influence on the world. But, it might be deduced from this passage and others that the primary way we have a massive impact on the world is by guarding ourselves from corruption. Only in that state will any way of life be preserved that demonstrates a true alternative to the manner of sinful living that most of us have become accustomed to.
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