Salt of the Earth

The following quote (courtesy Catez Stevens) comes here in a roundabout way from Brain Cramps for God. (Follow the link for his blog and a link to the direct quote.)

There is a tension that can develop between two different aspects of the Christian life. Should we be the city on the hill or the salt of the earth? Should we be a very separate group of people removed from others and wait for people to come to us - or should we be sprinkled out in the world like seasoning making a difference in our particular circles? Of course the obvious answer is both, but we don't always find the balance of both so easily.

Here's the problem: Salt is not only a seasoning. In Biblical times, one of salt's most extensive purposes was preserving meat and fish.

There was a lot of things wrapped in that quote, and I don't really want to get into that again - most of my thought processes on this matter are going out there on a church search, so that's the direction I'm going) but I've really been pondering the uses of salt.

This is going off on my own little "thought process", so there will probably be disagreement - oh well...

Looking at two very important descriptions in the Bible: meat and fish.

With meat (used as a description in the KJV for deep doctrine) and fish (Jesus said He would make His disciples "fishers of men" - making men the fish), salt was used to preserve these two foods.

Being the "salt of the earth" isn't just about being sprinkled out there for a little flavor. It's also about preservation - keeping the food good and safe.

All the flavoring (salt) in the world isn't going to help much if the meat (doctrine) has gone bad.

Same thing with fish. If we are "fishers of men", then other Christians are the fish. Are we out there "flavoring" them, or is our goal to help keep them safe?

Taking a look at the church my membership is currently at, how does all this relate?

Are my church leaders being "salt" to the congregation?

Are they preserving sound doctrine?
Are they "sprinkling" their congregation out into the world without making sure of the saltiness?
Are is it becoming that they are just out there for the flavor?

And how does this relate to me personally?
Am I trying to be "salt" when it comes to what my church is teaching?
Am I tring to convey to my children the "saltiness" that they need in order to be effective when they are "sprinkled out"? (one of them is really struggling, one of them is really taking off)
Is my family "preserving" or "flavoring"?

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17 thoughts on “Salt of the Earth

  1. I'm not sure that there is a tension in that passage as the original author of that quote (braincramps attributes it to Catez Stevens)

    As I read through Matthew 5:13-16 it seems to me to be two sides to the same coin, rather than two different coins. On side says that we are to be influences in our world, one way is to be light. Another way is to be salt. But can you be both a city on a hill and a saltshaker? I think so.

    One of the reasons I enjoy your blog is that you pose interesting questions - "are my church leaders being salt to the congregation"? I had never thought of this passage in that context and it bears thought.

    BTW, although I don't think it has anything to do with Jesus' meaning but here in the Pacific Northwest we have another use for salt, the killing of....slugs!

    P.S. Looks like braincramps and I are neighbors, we're both in suburbs on the west side of Portland. I might have to look him up!

  2. I think that we must be both salt and light. For me the problem comes in when the only use that you can see for salt is as a flavor and when you don't even think about its qualities of preservation. (think: "but where's the loooovvveee....")

    Here is an interesting article that a friend forwarded to me a couple of years ago and I come back to it from time to time. It's about when love is the first, last and only message that we send.

    On the other hand, if you want to think of salt as a slug-killer (been there, done that), what would the slugs be?

    (this is way out there)...think of false religions as the slugs and we're out there trying to be salt.

    😉 (see, you can make almost anything work)

  3. Hi Dave,
    Yes, you got my point.

    I think this part of what I said is important:
    making a difference in our particular circles.

    I've no problem with the preserving aspect of salt. That's a good point and another aspect. As Dave has picked up it was the sides of the coin I was getting at.

    Might be good to link to my post, which is here.


  4. Hi Ellen,
    I realised what I missed in my comment. When people quote from my original writing I do ask for attribution - either my name or a link, or both. It is my original work. Thanks.

  5. Catez, sorry for missing that I didn't post a link. I really do try to do that.

    My point was that (no matter what circle you're in), there should have to be a tension.

    If there is a tension (in the circle you're in) between "salt and light", or even the different aspects of "salt", maybe you're in the wrong circle.

    being a "city on a hill" isn't talking about being set apart (and neither was Marla, if you're intellectually honest). It's about letting the light shine openly so that "they may praise your Father in heaven."

    In a time when the average Christian has the discernment of a fruit fly - a call to discernment was met with scolding and scorn. Go figure.

  6. Ellen,
    I don't want to debate this with you. You've taken a quote from my post out of it's context and I would appreciate if you would add the link and/or my name to it - that's the appropriate attribution. The content of my blog is copyright to me. I don't get heavy with that but I do expect the appropriate attribution if some-one uses a direct quote. I'm aware that you are able to edit the post and add attribution and ask that you would do so.

  7. Of course you don't want to "debate"

    I was going to fix the link from home, but it was one of those days that blogger wasn't playing well with firefox. I could reply to blogs, but not get into "dashboard." I'm at work now, so I'll take care of it.

    Again...I'm sorry I missed it the first time.

  8. Thanks for linking it. I had a comment saying it seemed roundabout and then one saying I could see it - which were a waste of space.

    No I don't want to debate - what I've said is in my post.

  9. Here's a tip though - you might want to look up how Jesus referred to salt having "savor" and then check out "savor" in the dictionary. It's interesting.

  10. Interesting...

    savour (I generally don't use the English dictionary, I go to the Greek)

    transliterated: moraino
    1) to be foolish, to act foolishly
    a) to make foolish
    1) to prove a person or a thing foolish
    b) to make flat and tasteless
    1) of salt that has lost its strength and flavour

    With salt, taste and strength go together.

    If it's not strong, it's not tasty, either.

    Frankly, I'm confused why a call to discernment is received like the sky is falling.

    "know who you're hanging out with" seems SO basic!

  11. Hi Ellen,
    Your definitions don't fit the context - as losing savour is not a good thing and having it is. if you look up 'moraino' it means "lose savour" - (that's a direct quote from Strongs) i.e. losing savour is foolish. The greek is translating the "loss of savour', not 'savour' itself. Having savour is desired. So then it's interesting to look up the definition of savour.

    I'll leave it there - you keep wanting to debate other things and as I said I am not going to. I have said what I wanted in my post. I thought you might find looking up savour interesting - I did. Thanks.

  12. You're right, Catez.

    The point of my post was that there shouldn't have to be a tension between sharing the Gospel and "spreading the love".

    But you must be right.

    How can you possibly share the Gospel in places where you want to taste "salty"?

  13. I'm glad you posted on this Ellen as the "Salt of the Earth" reference has been thrown around alot lately and I haven't agreed with how it is used. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to research it yet, so it's still just a post in my head.

    I agree with you, I don't understand how discernment has become a bad word. And the overemphasis on love is concerning also. Another "post in my head".

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