A university chaplain reminds teens (and everyone) that Jesus calls us to be “salt,” adding flavor in the world.
Jesus spent at least one incredible day with more than 5,000 in attendance. We call the talk He gave the great Sermon on the Mount. Most of those in attendance were considered to be the poorest, the not-to-be-respected, the unimportant, and the outcast). Yet Jesus tells those people, “You are the salt of the earth.
I imagine that many listening were probably laughing or confused. What they normally heard was that they were “the scum of the earth” or “the least of the least” or “not worthy.” Yet at the same time, perhaps they could see a glimmer of hope in the profound truth Jesus was speaking into their lives.
We can miss the context. We hear Jesus’s words and tend to say, “Of course, God, we are salt. Thanks for reminding us!” The reaction is almost as if His words are some sort of energy boost drink to our egos. Instead, God reminds us that we all are poor sinners in need of grace and exactly the ones whom Jesus is beckoning to come.
It’s significant to know that salt is used to bring out the flavor of food and not disguise it. It’s an additive that enhances the flavor within.
My wife is a great cook and an exceptional baker. However, there are times that even the greats can make mistakes. Once, she decided to make quiche for our family. The recipe called for a dose of salt. But when the time came to dig into what looked incredibly beautiful and smelled just as good, my taste buds went into salt shock. At least that’s what I’m calling the recipe mishap. You might say that my quiche encounter that day may have looked good and even smelled good, but it turned out to be no good.
Getting the recipe wrong, so to speak, can happen with us believers sometimes when we approach being “salt” in our world. We miss what Eugene Peterson calls the “God-flavors” that permeate our world. Often we live our lives either as “salt overdose” or as “saltlessness.”
This of course affects our influence in the world. People get either “salt shocked” or get a taste of “bland believer.”
God’s “flavors” are all around His creation. We need to be agents who enhance these flavors. We the salt should be a part of bringing out true flavor “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Yes, this is not easy. The Christian journey can be difficult at times. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can become the salt that Jesus is declaring us to be.
What follows is advice from some current college students on how to remain salty.
- Know that you are loved and live into Jesus’ calling of being salt in your life with others.
- Cultivate the salt by putting yourself in uncomfortable challenging positions, serving in uncomfortable places, following God to unlikely places.
- Know your own faith and don’t be afraid to follow God’s leading to share the salt wherever.
- Get connected and stay connected to a local body (church) because transitions come and they are hard, and to be salt and light, you need others!
- Find a salt mentor, one who you see lives out being Jesus in the world.
- Stay grounded in the Word, in community, and in Jesus because it’s essential.
- Follow the one who calls you salt and He’ll teach you to be salt in your world.
- Don’t try and force being salt on others but just live it out genuinely and graciously.
So stay connected to the body of Christ, be who God created you to be, and live out that calling of being people — even “the least of the least” — who are bringing out the God-flavors in His world.
Tim Whetstone lives in San Diego where he serves as director of Chaplaincy Ministries at Point Loma Nazarene University.