This saying from the Sermon on the Mount actually helps to understand the previous blessing being spoken over the persecuted. How so? By showing how disciples are to be in the world. Rather than being loud, demanding, and obnoxious, which often buys Christians a lot of rejection and even persecution, Christians should be more like salt.
Salt works without fanfare. When you sprinkle it over a dish, it disappears. It doesn’t turn bright red or grow in size. You’d never know it was there except for the taste. Unmistakable. Adding flavor and grace to green beans or, in this case, to the world.
Salt does three things really well. The first, of course, is the taste it adds to food. The second is the way it preserves food such as fish and ham. And the third is the way it heals. We gargle with it. We wash wounds with it. Salt is indispensable.
When Jesus says, “You, and you alone, are the salt of the earth,” he is referring to the useful, helpful properties of salt. As “salt” we bring good things to the world around us. A world without us is like unsalted green beans. Jesus was calling us to be accountable and useful to the world. We are not meant to be boxed up on a shelf, but rather to be spread generously wherever we go.
For Christians to have no higher ambition than to attend church once in a while and sing nice songs, they are no better than salt still in its shaker. Full of potential but unused in the Kingdom of God. If disciples of Jesus don’t fulfill their role as salt, then who will?
Prayer: O God, you made us to be salt. If we are flavorless and without useful purpose to the world, then we are, as you said, good for nothing except to be cast out and walked on. Please help us to see how much the world needs our therapeutic and flavorful presence. May we take seriously our calling to be the “salt of the earth.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.