How Salty Are You?
"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?" — Matthew 5:13, NLT
We live in this day where if we say someone is "salty," it has a connotation of someone who is acting "bitter," "sassy," "sarcastic," "mad" — you get it. However, Jesus had a whole different meaning.
The other day I was reading in Matthew and this very well-known verse had me rethinking the meaning of being salty. Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth. I found myself asking, Okay, but what does that really mean? And I felt like he said, Look up the uses for salt.
So, I Googled, "uses for salt," and the first article that popped up was from a foodie blogger who listed six main ways salt is used in food.
For centuries, salt has been used as a preservative because it draws the moisture out of food, and the microbes that ruin food need moisture to grow. The presence of salt literally keeps these disease-causing microbes from growing.
Let’s talk about the diseases in our world — anxiety, depression, narcissism, PTSD, alcohol and substance abuse... just to name a few. Where do these stem from? How does it effect them and their generations that follow? Everyone has his or her story. People all around us, Christians included, are hurting, suffering, and being held captive by these diseases.
If Jesus says we are the salt of the earth, our presence should literally be working to keep diseases from having the platform to grow. How are we as Christians acting as a preservative to the health of those who are being weighed down by the burden of diseases?
People use salt to give a little texture to certain foods — think soft pretzels! Texture is all about touch. In art, texture is a fundamental element that is used to appeal to the viewer's sense of touch.
According to this article from Psychology Today, babies who are not held, cuddled, nuzzled and loved on will literally stop growing, and if they are neglected touch long enough, even given proper nutrition, they will die. Texture, touch, is essential to healthy human development.
You are the salt of the earth translates, "You are the touch of the world" — and you see how important that touch is. How are you touching the world? What texture are you adding?
This is the main one Jesus touches on in Matthew, asking, "But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?" Salt has the power to make something sweet even sweeter, to counteract bitterness, and to release aromatic molecules (P.S. you can't taste food if you can't smell it).
If we are the salt of the earth, we are called to stand out. Jesus is saying be in the world but not of the world, AKA don't just blend in with everything else that is around you. He is saying we should cause a positive change in something that is bland, too bitter, or just doesn't smell as good as it should — just as salt brings out the best flavors in our food.
Salt is, in fact, an essential nutrient for the body. Yes, Americans tend to overdo our intake, but it's true — our bodies need salt because of the sodium and chloride it provides. And you want to know the craziest part? Our bodies physically cannot produce sodium and chloride on their own. Did y'all catch that?
If we are the salt of the earth, we should provide something to humanity that it, itself, cannot produce on its own.
Acts as a Binder
Salt helps form protein gels. So, when salt is added to sausage, it causes gelatinization of the protein, which is what is holding that sausage together and keeping it from falling apart.
If we are the salt of the earth, we are called to be the binding agent that keeps things from falling apart. Maybe there is strife within your immediate family and it is in desperate need of a binding agent — is that you? Although challenging as it may be, we should not contribute to the chaos, but rather be the peacemakers, seeking to bind everyone together.
Salt preserves the redness of meat, and it's what causes that pretty golden brown color to happen on the crust of bread.
Don't even get me started on my nerdy obsession with the symbolism of color (you can thank my 9th grade English teacher). But I don't think I need to expand too much on the importance of color. Just know that it has the power to evoke good emotions and suppress bad ones; it even has the power to lower your blood pressure.
If we are the salt of the earth, we should be adding color into the lives of those around us.
So, what Jesus is essentially telling us is that we, as Christians, are called to be disease fighters, texture adders, flavor enhancers, an essential nutrient that the body itself cannot produce, binding agents, and color enhancers to the world.
Where is there an area of your life where you need to be more salty?