Meditation: Being Salt is a Tasteful Calling
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13
The first wars every fought on the earth are believed to have been fought over salt! It held the power for survival as a preservative and flavor enhancer. To ancient peoples it literally meant immortality. It was essential in sacrificial offerings and in burial practices. The Nile River was a rich source of the three salts necessary for mummification. Ancient peoples believed that a preserved body was essential to continue to exist in the after-life or to return in re-incarnation. Jesus was well aware of the importance of people’s desire for salt.
When he traveled from town to town it was on salt trade routes which were established 150 years before his birth.
These routes of commerce later became known as the “silk road.” Salt and the desire for salt had a huge impact on culture by connecting towns, villages, countries and continents. This impact is still reflected in our language. The English word “Salary” comes from the word salt. We still sometimes hear the expression, “He is not worth his salt.” Roman soldiers were often paid in salt because It was valuable, easy to carry, and in limited supply. People competed for it in the market place and one who had a lot of salt was wealthy.
Understanding the importance of salt in ancient times helps us understand the story of Lot’s wife in Genesis. We are told she wanted to return to her wealthy and luxurious life-style in Sodom. The irony becomes clear , she turned into a pillar of salt. It would be like saying she loved money so much she turned into a huge pile of it. In the end, she was only that thing which she loved. This is a lesson for us all.
The Arabic word peace (salaam) means negotiation (originally over salt). Likewise, the word for war (milah"'ama) was in reference to the disruption of salt sources and delivery. A community cut off from its salt supply would be destroyed. Salt was the ingredient, the nutrient, the life force. Unlike today where it has become the thing many of us avoid in our diets or that little something that makes things taste better. It is little wonder we have not given Bible references to salt more attention.
Perhaps when we read references to salt we can better understand the meaning if we substitute a commodity which symbolizes the same thing in today’s world. Oil! The disruption of its flow represents suffering and death. Those who have it are rich. Those who want it are ruthless. Peace will come when it is negotiated and war is synonymous with the disruption of its flow.
“We are the salt of the earth” takes on a whole new meaning. People who live by the values of Jesus are essential to the welfare of our communities and our world. The presence of truth, love and forgiveness are the values of “salt “. this is what hinders the decay of our societies. It preserves and sustains the people. It is our ability to negotiate, to think about the needs and desires of both sides in a conflict which sustains peace. The message is repeated in Mark 9:50 where we are instructed to “have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another. “ His grace is sufficient for all. We do not need to worry about the preservation of our lives.
Prayer: Immortal Lord who sustains our bodies and our souls teach me what it means to have salt with in myself so I may help nourish, preserve, and bring peace to the world. May I not shy away from inhibiting corruption and decay where it exists. Let me be poured out for you in generous amounts to bring peace.
Action: Be salt this week in some way. Preserve goodness, hinder corruption, and negotiate peace. Do one act which salts the world. Make your voice heard in Washington on war and corruption and at the same time do an act or speak out for goodness in your local community.