You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. Matthew 5:13
This part of the sermon on the mount has always troubled me. I don’t think we get to the bottom of what Jesus meant when He called us the “salt of the earth.” I don’t think He meant what “salt of the earth” has come to mean in it’s English interpretation which has its meaning in the best of the best, or a fine, upstanding, moral person. That doesn’t seem to fit with the person He’s been describing since He began this “sermon” — the poor, humble, sad, mocked, persecuted, hungering-for-justice person — what we mean when we say so-and-so has had a hard life. “Crusty” comes to mind. Salty, as in “salty dog.”
I’m thinking of the gritty nature of salt. I’m thinking of the opposite of “nice.”
In Christ’s day they used salt as a preservative. They rubbed it into meat to preserve it and arrest spoilage. There is a confronting, gritty nature of the truth — the part that rubs holy, self-righteous people the wrong way — the part that got Jesus crucified. And salt that’s lost its flavor is what would make you bland and boring like the Pharisees, instead of gritty and salty like Jesus. God wants to rub us into the “nice” of life and add some spice to the world. He wants us to bring the flavor out of life.
Jesus certainly did this; He rubbed some people the wrong way and other people the right way. He got under the Pharisees’ skin. He irritated them because He made them face the truth about themselves and about the society they were creating. I think Jesus wants us to manifest that salty, gritty nature of truth to the world. We do this just by being who we are — by being truthful. We do this when we are being twelve step people.
I’m not suggesting that we go out into the world and make ourselves obnoxious on purpose — God knows we have enough of those kinds of Christians out there — I’m suggesting we not lose the arresting nature of the truth — the honest, gritty part that comes from being truthful about ourselves.