Friday, 29 October 2010

On Being Salt

Last night at our church prayer meeting, someone read out Jesus' words about his people being salt and light in the world. A great word for such a time as this. But (for those who couldn't be there) what does it mean to be salt?

Here is a filled-out, tidied up and slightly more pondered version of what I said following that reading:

If we impose our 21st century Western perspective with it's mass refrigeration and overconsumption lifestyle onto the text, we will misunderstand what Jesus says.

Jesus isn't merely saying that "Christians should make life taste good," although they should. Nor is he saying that the world should have Christians in moderation as part of a balanced ecosystem along with all other world views. So what is he saying?

Jesus is fulfilling all the teaching and prophecy of the Old Testament, and if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us, so let's go there and find out.

Running a search on "salt" in the OT some interesting things.

Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, when she looked back upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was used in the OT sacrifices and anointing oils for the priesthood.
It was an instrument of God's wrath
It prohibits growth and produces a wasteland
It renewed polluted water sources

So how do we process all that? Sometimes salt is good (anointing oils / sacrifices / restoring water sources), other times it's bad (turning fruitful places into good for nothing wastelands / putting to death a wife with a divided heart).

[Dramatic Pause]

Salt is symbolic of God's righteous judgement. Salt is bad news for those who refuse to listen to God and a sign of the judgement that is coming. However, it's great news for those who listen, trust and obey him.

Salt was added to the sacrifices because it was Jesus who came under the righteous judgement of God on our behalf for our rebellion against him. It's also added to the anointing oil because the Father has seen it fitting to appoint him as High Priest over the whole creation and can now righteously welcome and anoint all those who come to him through Jesus.

So Christians today, are the evidence of God's righteous judgement against this world order that now stands condemned in his sight. By a mixture of words and deeds, by not heaping up possessions and status, by giving sacrificially to the suffering, by praying for and proclaiming the advance of the kingdom of God and his Christ, Christians will show the world that history is heading for the judgement time of Christ.

This kind of lifestyle and talk will get Christians into trouble, (note what Jesus says just before he talks about salt and light). But people will give praise to God for it, whether it's when they willingly bow the knee before him in repentance and joyful faith in this life, or whether it's when they are forced to bow the knee and recognise his authority at the end of the age, before they are driven into outer darkness and the second death.

Don't let the fear of man, cause you to lose your saltiness. Now more than ever, pray for love, faith and courage.

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