Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Please Pass the Salt
I envy those people who can taste something and know just what ingredients it contains and know just what is needed to make it perfect. I don't think I'd know what any herb or spice tastes like, with the exception of salt, and I even have trouble with that sometimes.
Nothing is quite so tricky as finding just the right amount of salt for food. Too little and my grits taste bland and a little like the bag they come in. Too much and they are suddenly inedible. Yes, I know you can add potatoes to something you have over-salted, but who wants potatoes in their grits?
This whole salt thing got me to thinking about something from the Bible. According to Matthew 5:13, we are to be salt of the earth. According to wikipedia, "Salt is a necessity of life and was a mineral that was used since ancient times in many cultures as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a unit of exchange. The Bible contains numerous references to salt. In various contexts, it is used metaphorically to signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification."
I love the idea that as Christians we are to bring flavor to life. We are to bring out the natural gifts in others, much the way salt enhances the natural flavors in food. Unfortunately, at times I'm afraid my cooking abilities spill over into my spiritual life and I "over-salt" my world.
Don't get me wrong, I truly believe in sharing the Good News of Jesus with those around me....but yesterday I saw an article that reminded me of over-salting food. In this article people were berating others for NOT wishing them a Merry Christmas in a department store. Now, I'm for Christmas as much as the next person, but becoming irate at not being wished Merry Christmas when I buy yet another un-needed gift for someone strikes me as a bit off. It's sort of like dumping the whole box of salt on my meal....it just doesn't make sense.
To me, salt should bring out the natural gifts in others. It should make you thirsty for the Living Water of the Word, and it should be just enough so that you want more. If you dump too much out at once, instead of wanting more it simply drives you in the other direction. (How do I know this? I told you I was a lousy cook!) I don't think that's what the gospel writers had in mind.
I have to ask myself, am I being salt to the earth? Am I living my life in such a way that others want more of what I have, or am I keeping it all to myself? That makes things dull and tasteless. If, however, I am allowing God to use me to find the good in others, to seek out those in need and share what I have been given, (that need doesn't have to just be physical needs by the way), and if my life can somehow signify permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification, then perhaps I've finally discovered how to use my seasoning well in life.
The rest of that verse talks about salt losing it's flavor....that it becomes so mixed with other minerals that it no longer has any taste. I have seen times in my own life when I have become so like the world that I was in danger of losing my "taste". It is a delicate balance to be in the world and yet not become so mixed that I lose my effectiveness. That doesn't mean I have to separate myself and live in some commune, but it does mean I have to be aware of the influences the world can have over me. I can't simply dump out my salt on others and run, I've got to keep my heart right while I "shake out a little salt" as I go. I don't have to worry about running out because God provides an endless supply when I'm using it the way He intended!
I may never find myself being the focus of some cooking show, but I truly hope that somehow I can learn to be "worth my salt" in life. I'm off to see who's life I can add some salt to today. Care to join me?
Tomorrow, perhaps we'll talk about being light.
Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."