When Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), what does this analogy mean?
Some see salt as a preservative; therefore, God’s people serve to retard evil and preserve good in the world. Others point out that salt was used as an expression of purity, the glistening clarity making it useful as a worship offering. As such, we are supposed to be purifiers in a tainted world.
Both applications carry powerful challenges – to ward off evil and to purify. But salt’s primary use was as a flavor-enhancer. Christians add flavor to the dullness of life. In a tasteless world, Christians live life in such a way that it becomes flavorful, livable, and desirable again. We Christians – filled with the Holy Spirit and living out the character of Christ – are supposed to add spice, zest, and vigor to life.
Somewhere along the way, we went the opposite direction. We started advertising Christian faith as a way to become dull – characterized by all the things we don’t do. No wonder youth often see Christian faith as something to be put off until later: “Let me live my exciting life now, and then – when I get old and dull like you – I’ll trust Christ too.” Oliver Wendell Holmes saw flavorless ministers and observed, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.”
In contrast, we’re supposed to be flavor-enhancers! We live to improve the quality of the lives of those around us. We bring in donuts on a dreary Monday morning. We help someone else out of the loneliness of life – by visiting a nursing home or dropping over to see a lonely neighbor. We influence our communities with the zest for Christ by assisting in things like PTA, community associations, or local service. “Salty” Christians invest in others in an effort to improve the taste of living in the name of Christ.
Try to live as salt of the earth. Ask each day, “If Jesus calls me to be ‘salt’ in society – how can I add zest and flavor and quality to the lives of the people I touch today?”