Christian Salt--by Kimberly B. Southall

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I came across a phrase not long ago that caught my attention and piqued my curiosity: When you need salt, sugar won't do. Well, obviously, that statement is true at face value, but what was the deeper meaning of the statement? I found references to salt in the scriptures. In the Old Testament, salt was used to make incense (Exodus 30:35), for grain offerings (Leviticus 2:13), in burnt offerings (Ezekiel 43:24), and in everlasting covenants (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Salt was a necessary supply for the Old Testament priests (Ezra 6:9; Ezra 7:21-22). It was used as a seasoning (Job 6:6) and as an antiseptic for newborns (Ezekiel 16:4). Elisha purified the bad water at Jericho with salt (2 Kings 2:20-21). In the New Testament, Jesus said His followers were the "salt of the earth" and that their saltiness could be lost (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34). Paul instructed the Colossians that their conversation was to be "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6).

Why was salt of such importance in the scriptures? Why did Jesus compare people to salt . . . what on earth could the two have in common? To find the answer, I did some research about salt. I was amazed at what I learned.

Salt's impact in the body. In the human body, salt is essential for muscle movement, including that of the heart. In addition, it is necessary for the digestive tract to function properly. Salt is crucial for the transmission of messages by the nerve cells, and it regulates osmotic pressure and the movement of fluid to and from the cell. Salt is found in blood, sweat, and tears. Hotter climates increase the need for salt consumption. Chronic deprivation of salt causes loss of weight, loss of appetite, nausea, muscular cramps, and it stunts growth.

Salts many uses. Salt serves a vast variety of uses. In the food industry, it is used in flavoring and seasoning, pickling, canning, preserving, baking, dairying, curing meat and fish, and processing flour and other foods. Within food itself, salt is a binder, a texturizer, and a fermentation control agent. Other industrial uses include tanning leather, de-icing highways, oil well drilling, and fertilizing (rock salt fertilizes with sodium, which makes sugar beets yield more sugar). Salt is applied on dusty floors in equestrian centers and indoor arenas, because it retains moisture and keeps the dust down. Salt is used in the manufacture of plastics, paper, soaps and detergents, insecticides, glass, dyestuffs, textiles, and it is used to remove traces of water from aviation fuel after it's purified. Salt is employed in manufacturing an estimated 14,000 products. Some rather interesting tidbits about salt include the fact that it was once used as currency in several places and was heavily taxed (and still is in some places). And did you know that Leonardo da Vinci put an overturned salt cellar in front of the ill-fated Judas in his painting The Last Supper?

So, with all of this information about salt, I began to see some of the parallels between salt and Jesus' followers.

Christian salt. I believe Jesus' message about our being the salt of the earth means that our very lives–the way that we think, act, and speak–is the salt that the world needs. We are the "Christian salt." What is the Christian salt's impact in the world?

  • We are essential for "muscle movement." "Christian salt" enables the world to move smoothly in the right direction and in the right way. Without it, there is lack of coordination–disorder, mayhem, lawlessness, etc.
  • We are vital for the digestive tract. "Christian salt" helps the world digest the life-saving truth of God's Word. The nutrients of the Word of God feeds and strengthens the world.
  • We are crucial for the transmission of messages. "Christian salt" is imperative for the delivery of the message God has for the world. In addition to the literal Word of God, the examples we set by the way we live clarifies that message.
  • We are evident in the "blood, sweat and tears". Just as in a physical body, blood, sweat, and tears are evidence of life. So, too, "Christian salt" will be found in the "blood, sweat, and tears" of the world. In other words, where there is life and goodness, there is evidence of Christ's impact through His followers.
  • We are needed most in "hotter climates". The need for "Christian salt" increases with temptation and sin. The more that wickedness increases in the world, the greater the need for "Christian salt." It is interesting to note that, in the parts of the world where persecution is at its most devastating, the Christian faith is multiplying by leaps and bounds despite all efforts to stifle it.
  • Our chronic failure causes great damage. Chronic deprivation of "Christian salt" causes loss of weight (dwindling Christianity in the world), loss of appetite (the world's lack of interest in God and His Word), nausea (the world's rejection of God and His Word), and muscular cramps (disorder, conflict, and wickedness in the world). Eventually, lack of "Christian salt" leads to stunted growth–a body or world that can never reach full health and maturity.
  • We have so many uses. Just like the physical salt, "Christian salt" can serve endless purposes. We can be a binder (bringing others to a relationship with Jesus Christ), a texturizer (adding a righteous flavor to this sinful world), and a fermentation agent (helping to preserve souls from rotting eternally in Hell).
  • We are of value. "Christian salt" is absolutely vital to this world. Surely, we are here for a purpose–to worship God and to lead others to Him. That makes us of exceedingly great value.
As Jesus Christ's followers, we are the salt of the earth–we are the "Christian salt" that the world so desperately needs. Let us always remember to live accordingly, and never lose our saltiness.

Copyright © 2002 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.