July 15 I Friday
“You are the salt of the earth.” —Matthew 5:13
What did Jesus mean when He said, “You are the salt of the earth”? During the Old and the New Testament times, salt was used as a preservative. People would use it to cure meat and fish to make them last longer in the arid climate when refrigerators and freezers were not yet invented. Yet, how salt functions is interesting, as we seek to understand what Jesus was saying.
Firstly, salt preserves by purifying what it touches. Literally, when we take salt and apply it to the meat, it chemically changes the environment around what it touches so that harmful bacteria cannot grow on the meat. Salt helps remove the excess moisture out of the meat so that disease-forming bacteria that needs this moisture to survive are starved of their food source and eventually die away. From a scientific point of view, a chemical reaction takes place, where the protein of the meat is altered at the molecular level, changing its state. In other words, salt brings preservation through transformation on what it touches. When the salt of the gospel comes into our life, it removes the harmful bacteria, but the essence of who we are remains just in a purified state that enhances the image-bearers that we were always created to be.
Secondly, salt enhances the flavour of whatever it is added to. When it is added in the right amount at the end of cooking something, salt brings transformation that is pleasant to the palette. It can also subdue some of the bitter flavours in foods such as broccoli, which is why when we boil broccoli in water, we add a bit of salt to help mellow some of that bitterness. In the right measure, salt brings out the best of what it touches.
Altogether, what Jesus was conveying was, “You are the salt of the earth. You are a preservative that I am going to give power to bring transformation to the world. You are scattered throughout the world to bring transformation into a world that is decaying because of the harmful bacteria known as sin. You are to stop the growth of disease-forming sin. You are to transform the environment and bring out the best of people.”
As the Church of Jesus Christ, we are a sent body to be salt that brings preservation. Salt, however, cannot bring about transformation from a distance; it has to be pressed into whatever it is transforming. If salt just remains in the salt shaker, it does absolutely nothing. May we consider how we can be the salt of the earth today.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, what depth there is to understand the function of salt. May I be Your salt in this world to preserve and to bring out the best of people. Thank You, Lord.