When I attended the 2015 Washington Prayer Gathering, I noticed several people around with great t-shirts. One of them said #passthesalt. I loved this shirt because it was very understated and a little clandestine. More importantly, it made a significant statement.
In Matthew chapter five, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” He says this immediately after telling his followers they would be persecuted because of him. The implication is this: the world might hate you, but the world still needs you.
In those days (and even now), salt was used as a preservative. There weren’t a lot of refrigerators around, and even less electricity. Salt was an important commodity. When it lost its “saltiness” it was discarded.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Jesus wanted us to be the salt of the earth. That’s quite apparent. He coupled that with wanting us to be the light of the world as well. You remember—a city on a hill, and all that.
So “pass the salt”, at least in my mind, must be a reminder that we are to be salty enough to give a little taste to the world—to help preserve it—and to do it in an overt way.
It’s interesting to me that I liked the t-shirt in question (at least in part) because it was a little clandestine. I guess I’m like a lot of people and don’t want to be the “in your face” type. That’s okay as long as we’re not withholding things altogether. Hiding sounds appealing because of the persecution that goes along with being out in the open about things.
Yet, that was the very point of what Jesus was telling his followers. You don’t hide a light under a bushel basket. You can’t hide a hilltop town. And if you’re supposed to be salt, pass it along before it loses its zing.
Every time I think of salt as a preservative, I think of ham. I live in Virginia. We’re famous for our hams here.
One thing that’s true of hams is the salty taste. It’s tough to eat a good ham sandwich without drinking a beer (or whatever quenches your thirstbuds).
Without the salt, the hams wouldn’t last long. They wouldn’t taste very good either. I’ve never had a saltless piece of ham, nor would I want one. It’s just not very appealing.
Believe it or not, it seems that Jesus feels that way about the world. It’s just not the same without Christians giving it some flavor. What’s worse, it probably wouldn’t last very long without us either.