Let’s talk about salt for a moment. First, salt is amazing. I think I could be content being a deer or a cow if it meant regular time at a salt lick. Second, salt is amazing! Do you know how many things salt can do?
Salt preserves. It heals. It seasons. It stings. It awakens thirst. It bonds friendships (in certain cultures). It testifies to covenants (on certain occasions). Salt was so amazing, in fact, that the Greeks considered it to be divine, calling it theon. The Romans considered it to be worth giving as a wage to their soldiers. Some cultures valued salt more than gold, more than silver.
So when Jesus stood on the mountain and spoke to His disciples and the crowd, saying, “You are the salt of the earth,” what ideas must have taken shape in their minds! I am to season the earth. I am to awaken thirst amongst the peoples. I am to preserve that which is worth preserving, to battle against the natural decay of the world.
It’s a strange thing to call someone salt, and not fully explain what you mean, other than to warn the salt to not lose its saltiness, or its taste. “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said, “but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” The Greek here is more telling: if salt is made useless, made foolish, is tainted–how will it be restored? It’s as if Jesus is saying, You are salt. That’s what my Father intends you to be. So don’t stop being salt!
Now, let’s talk about light. Yes, light is also amazing. It’s no salt lick, but it still blows the minds of theoretical physicists, philosophers, cosmologists, and photographers alike. It’s a timeless symbol for God, and for good, and in some ways, for eternity itself.
Light reveals. It illuminates the darkness. It attracts. It goes incredibly fast, and its power and reach and breadth know no bounds, provided the source is sufficient.
So when Jesus says to the disciples, and to the crowd, “You are the light of the world,” he’s saying something remarkable. Keep in mind, John tells us that “God is light,” and Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” And this is what is so shocking: God is light, and Jesus is the light of the world, and we are the light of the world too. We are not God, certainly, but we are embodied with the same kind of nature as He has, perhaps because our new nature shares in His, producing forth a light that scatters the darkness and bears witness to the good we do by His Spirit.
Salt, and light. Jesus says we are both. Let’s be both.
But as we do so, let’s keep in mind that salt works silently, hidden amongst the meat, or blending in with the herbs, or being absorbed in the mouth. Salt does its work in and among its environment. Light, however, shines forth so brightly that people see its effects and give glory to its Source. Light does its work in and on its environment. But what salt and light do have in common is that they do their best work among other salts and lights. A grain of salt may taste like salt, but it won’t season a meal, and it won’t preserve a steak. A single candle may give light to a room, but it won’t shine forth from a hilltop.
So be salt this week. Let your silence of your character speak loudly for you. Let your blending in with the world around you give rise to an opportunity to preserve, or heal, or awaken spiritual thirst. And be light as well. Let your deeds shine forth so that the world around you may see the Light who works in and through you and give glory to our Father in heaven.
May we gather together, as the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, to season, and preserve, and awaken, and shine forth to a world in need!