Summary: Part 6 in Sermon on Mount Series, looks at our need to make a difference.
If you were going to make a statement that would indicate the worth of someone who meant a great deal to you what metaphors would you use. "a million bucks" "gold" "silver" "pearls" "priceless" "a mint" how about "Salt"
For the past several weeks we have been following the words of Christ as he summed up what a Christian’s character should be, notice now that I didn’t say what a Christian character should be I’m sure we all know at least one of those. The beatitudes are really the characteristics of a believer. And then Christ makes a remarkable statement. A statement that would have caused a few strange looks. He said "You are the salt of the earth". Now that seems of minor significance to us, after all salt is pretty common and relatively inexpensive. We use it for cooking, it’s on every table, we spread it in copious amounts on our roads, and being this close to the water there are even times that you can smell it in the air. So it doesn’t seem like that great of a compliment.
But if we were to place ourselves in the time of Christ we would see slat as probably the most important element in our culture. Salt was so special, so unique, so sought after that in many of the early civilizations it was more valuable then gold. And so on the surface Christ was making a value judgement about those who would follow him. And if we can determine why salt was so valuable in that culture then we should be able to see some additional characteristics that Christ was saying would be evident in believers.
1) Salt keeps us healthy. Salt is essential for the well being and indeed the very existence for those living in very hot climates. It is necessary for proper body metabolism, that is the normal retention and exchange of fluids between cells.
When the body begins to lose moisture and salt content through perspiration, then the life process become threatened. In fact if the salt isn’t replaced then death may occur. That’s why people who work in very hot climates often find it necessary to take salt tablets. In Australia they have a horrid brown paste that they spread on their toast, it would remind you a little bit of axle grease that’s gone off. It’s called vegamite and if you think I’m exaggerating stop by the house Rebecca Perry left some behind before she returned to Oz. Australians grow up eaten this stuff like we eat Peanut Butter and one of the practical aspects of it is the high salt content that it contains. Israel two thousand years ago didn’t have vegamite and so salt was the key to their health, well being, strength and vitality.
So when Christ commends us as salt he is commanding us to contribute to the health, vitality and well being of society. Too often we hear the phrase "society is sick" and well that may be true, the Christian church must realize that one of the reasons we are supposed to be here is to keep society healthy.
During the past seventy years we have sought to solve the worlds problems a whole bunch of different ways, and we really need to stop and ask ourselves the question "just how effective have we been?"
1) in the 20’s education was trumpeted as the answer to our sick society. To become an educated nation was to solve all of our problems, and yet today higher education is primarily in the hands of those who deny God and deliberately seek to ignore him. Literally millions of students spend years acquiring knowledge without any mention of God.
2) Well the titillating twenties passed into the terrible thirties. The world was engulfed in economic disaster. Depression ground people into poverty and the world said let us find an economic solution and we got "New Deals." But it took a World War to end our economic woes.
3) the furious forties came and we saw the atrocities performed by people against people and we cried "give us peace, give us a political solution" Again we didn’t turn to God and we found the U.N. and Nato and the ECC, a virtual alphabet soup of organizations, however none seemed to work.
4) Well along came the fabulous fifties, science was on the move and was touted as the solution to our sick society, a veritable be all end all. And there was a explosion of scientific knowledge. The scientists of the world declared that with enough money, enough men, enough research facilities and enough time science would give us the solution to all of our problems.
And while science has certainly solves some of our problems it has only magnified others. Once again by ignoring God we have lost our perspective.