Teaching about Salt and Light
13 “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.
Salt of the Earth. Have you ever wondered what that meant? Why does God want us to be whatever it is?
Maybe you haven't wondered. Maybe I'm just the big dummy that always struggled with the concept of making myself like table salt. Even after I started making my own jewelry and branding it "Earth Psalts", I had a hard time figuring out how to explain it. And then one day, I watched a documentary called Salt: Tears Of The Earth, and I started understanding why salt is so important.
So here we go; Let's talk about salt.
The Bible talks about it a great deal, more than I ever realized. In three of the Gospels, we are told to be the salt of the earth. Matthew says that once salt has lost its flavor, it's worthless. Luke goes even further and says that without flavor, salt isn't good enough to be thrown on the soil or the dung heap. Mark says to have salt within yourself and be at peace with others. All three of them ask how flavorless salt can get its saltiness back.
Colossians says to season your words with salt so that you know how to answer people. Leviticus says to season your offerings and sacrifices with salt. Elijah performed a miracle with it. Babies were rubbed with it, borders were defined by it, cities and seas were named after it. Even the Lord's covenants were compared to it.
Historically, salt was always a precious commodity, and was one of the earliest forms of currency. Civilizations could not have developed without salt, and the more highly developed civilizations arose around areas where salt deposits were plentiful. Physically, salt is necessary to sustain life, but it's not typically found in sufficient amounts in a vegetarian diet. Even animals need salt to survive. Hunters and ranchers alike put out salt licks for domestic and wild plant-eating animals to be able to get what they need. Wild moose are often seen licking salt from the sides of roads. I read that somewhere today, although I don't know why salt would accumulate near roads, except in densely populated areas where the roads might get de-iced in winter.
But to understand how we could possibly be all that salt can be, we have to understand the properties of salt. So consider this a crash course, and salute yourself if you ever have the occasion to win a game of trivial pursuit with your new found knowledge.
Trivia 1: Salt is essential to life, but must be in balance. Both too much and too little salt can be fatal.
I think everybody knows that drinking seawater is really dangerous, and most of us know that you can literally drown yourself internally by drinking too much regular water. In both cases, your body is depleted of necessary nutrients. Either your brain and organs become dehydrated from consuming too much salt, or you've consumed so much water that you've diluted your body's salt content. Either way, you die. Knowing this makes me think of the time that I accidentally salted the Kool-Aid at my daughter's house. In my defense, she had filled her sugar canister with salt, and I assumed I was sweetening the drink. We discovered the error when my son-in-law came in and gulped down a glass full so quickly that his stomach revolved before his taste buds could even register. I recall how we laughed about it at the time (after he'd vomited it back up), not realizing just how tragic it could have been.
By the time we finish this chapter, it will probably be pretty clear, from a Biblical perspective, what happens to the spiritual health of a nation that is lacking in saltiness. The closest I can come to providing a Biblical analogy of too much salt is when Lot's wife defied the instructions not to look back on the city that God was destroying. I would like to think that it was her heart, rather than her head, that prompted God to turn her into a life-sized salt-lick. Yes, she turned around and looked, and that was an act of disobedience. But was it just an act of curiosity, like that morbid instinct we humans have to rubberneck the scene of an accident as we drive past? Or did she look back in regret and sorrow for having to leave the wicked city? Oh well, that's a question for another day. Or never.
Trivia 2: Salt is formed by a chemical reaction between sodium and chlorine gas.
Sodium is an unstable metal by itself, but when it is paired with chlorine gas, it stabilizes and becomes this amazing compound that is beneficial on so many levels! The same can be said of humans. Apart from God, we are unstable, disaster prone, wicked wretches. But when we pair up with God, there's this transformation that begins taking place. We become stronger, and more grounded, because the Holy Spirit lives within us. We are purified through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Trivia 3: Salt is a preservative.
Have you ever canned or pickled vegetables? One of the primary ingredients is salt. It is the substance that preserves your veggies so they can have a long shelf life in your pantry. Meat is also sometimes preserved by salt, in a process known as curing. The salt draws the water content out, and inhibits bacterial growth.
Likewise, we are preserved by God. His word is eternal, and our lives are eternal. Not our bodies, those perish, but once we've accepted His gift of salvation, our souls will live forever.
Trivia 4: Salt is durable and transportable.
Although salt is required to sustain life, it doesn't take much. It is found naturally in abundance, and can be harvested in a variety of way. It is naturally renewable, so we'll never run out of it. Combine those little facts with the chemical stability of salt, and you have an ingredient that can make itself at home on any table, anywhere in the world.
When we accept Christ and start studying God's word, learning how to live a life that is pleasing to Him, we become spiritually strong enough to withstand anything the world might throw at us. We can go into any country, no matter how war-torn or under how much persecution, and share the salt with those who are needing it.
Trivia 5: Salt provides a reflective surface that is used to calibrate equipment.
The world's largest salt flat covers more than 4,000 square miles. It is often covered with a thin layer of melt-water, which becomes like one gigantic mirror. This natural phenomenon is used for calibrating scientific equipment in space.
When we are 'salty', we're reflecting God's holiness in our lives. Although we're not going to be able to produce a perfect mirror image, we do reflect enough of His nature to shine light in a spiritually darkened world.
Trivia 6: The presence of salt indicates the presence of oil.
Back in the early 1900s, there was a guy named Anthony Lucas. He was the first to put two and two together and determine that the presence of salt indicated the presence of oil. His theory was proven with Spindle Top, aka the Lucas Gusher, an oil well near Beaumont, TX that shot a steady stream of oil 197 feet into the air for nine days straight. This was the beginning of the "black gold rush".
Just like what kick-started the petroleum industry more than a century ago, the presence of salt in us indicates something much deeper, much richer, and much more important even than salt. Salt may be necessary for sustaining life on earth, but God, through His son Jesus Christ, is the only way we are able to have an eternal life.
Whew. That's a lot of salt to digest. I wish I had time to go through and rearrange the order of my trivia facts, but I've spent a long day running errands, and I'm on my way even now to pick up my mom. Later, perhaps, I'll get around to ordering it so that it flows better, but for now, at least all the points I wanted to make are in there.