In grad school, I lived with a few college buddies. We were maturing, we thought. Our irresponsible college days were behind us. We cut the lawn, did our chores, and kept the house in a reasonable condition. In an effort to join adulthood, we decorated the house for Christmas. Mature indeed.
That is why it surprised us so much when we returned one evening to find our Santa Claus was missing. In its place was a ransom note.
Santa had been stolen.
Retaliation (the good, Christian thing to do) came easy to us. We broke into the culprits’ house, stole back our Santa Claus, put flour in the bathroom hairdryer, and hid food in our “enemies” bedroom. Flour on a head of wet hair was sweet revenge. And so is watching our friends try to figure out what that mysterious smell was in their house… for weeks.
Mature indeed. (And I hope you know pastors are not perfect).
Left on its own, food rots. It decays. It begins to smell and become diseased. And sometimes, I think this is how we feel about the world in which we live. As we journey in life, we begin to catch a whiff of some pretty rotten stuff: broken relationships, hate, crime, poverty, hopelessness, pain, cancer, and the list goes on.
Our natural reaction to decay is to run away.
But Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth…”
In Jesus’ day, there was no electricity. No refrigeration. None of the modern conveniences we use to keep food from spoiling.
In Jesus’ day, salt was highly valuable. Salt is a preservative. It was the only thing used to keep food from spoiling. Salt prevented decay. It kept things from getting rotten and diseased. It was essential.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be salt of the earth. We are called, by Jesus, to prevent decay. Our lives are meant to be worked into this world in such a way that we will keep things from going rotten.
Some Christians today complain about the decay of this world. And they do so while distancing themselves from their neighborhoods, schools, relationships, and world.
But salt does not work while sitting in a jar on the shelf. It must be worked into the food.
If we refuse to be the salt of the earth, we should not be surprised at its decay. However, if we work our lives into this world, I think we will be amazed at what a little salt can do.
You are the salt of the earth… preventing the decay of this world is our responsibility.