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Pass the Salt

By Mike Mazzalongo     Posted: Sun. Jan 13th
How Christians can influence the spiritual tone of their surroundings and their need to do so.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
- Matthew 5:13

Jesus summarizes the effect that the unique Christian character and lifestyle has on the world by comparing them to salt. Salt makes a difference, whether you use it in cooking or in any one of its industrial uses - Jesus says that in like manner, Christians should make a difference. The Lord emphasizes this point when He says that if salt were to lose its saltiness, it would then be useless and not good for anything - and in the same way if Christians do not maintain their standards or their work, they too are not useful to God or to society.

Jesus wanted His disciples to flavor the world with the taste and presence of Christianity - this, He said could be done by a pure life and good works that the world could see and give God the glory for. In this context Christians today are called upon to be salt and make a difference in society. John Alexander, in an article in World Magazine suggests several ways this can be effectively done.

Salt Through Evangelism

The first and most obvious way is to season the world with the name and the message of Jesus Christ. Our first priority as Christians is to live and talk in such a way that people are brought face to face with Christ and the gospel. Jesus gave the great commission to the Apostles in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:16-18 but the work did not end with them. Each generation must find a way to spread the gospel to those who do not know it.

We will not be judged on how well the Apostles and the first century church did this, or how well the church of Christ evangelized in the 50s. The current congregation you are attending is responsible for your world, in your lifetime, with your resources and abilities.

Evangelism is not simply the job of missionaries or the minister, it is the responsibility of each individual in the congregation. The only difference is the manner in which we carry out our efforts to preach to the lost. Jesus commands that we bring the gospel to all creation, He leaves to our various skills and abilities how we do that.

For example in this congregation

  • Some work at correspondence courses
  • Some support missions
  • Others preach, write or teach
  • Still others study one on one or invite people to church

Each way to salt the world with the gospel of Christ is good. The point to remember is that each person find a way that suits him/her and begin salting.

Salt Through Lifestyle

People may not want to hear you preach Christ to them or accompany you to church, but they can always see Christ in you by the way you act and talk. We can say we are salt but people usually reserve judgment about us until they've tasted our saltiness. They may not like salt or use salt but they know what it tastes like. Christians who have lost their flavor of Christ because: they are unfaithful in church attendance, don't know God's word or act and speak like non-believers and sinners; end up giving other people a bad taste in their mouths concerning Christianity

People will be drawn to Christ and His gospel because they want the benefits of Christianity that they see in Christians. Benefits such as: Love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, faithfulness, wisdom, kindness, Godliness, etc.

Christians are like those people who offer free samples at Costco - we offer a taste of Christ and the quality of the flavor is based on the quality of our lives lived in obedience to Jesus. If people like what they sample from us, they will love what they receive in knowing the one who gives us our flavor.

Salt Through Good Works

Of course the most dynamic and pro-active way to flavor this world with the spirit of Christ is to do good works directly related to His name. The early church gained a tremendous reputation when it began to save and care for babies who had been abandoned. This was the ancient method of family planning as practiced by the pagan nations. If the baby was deformed, ill or one girl too many, it would be left in a field to die.

The early church saw an opportunity to impact its society by taking in these unwanted children. This type of charity was unheard of at the time and truly impressed the pagans who noticed Christianity for the first time because of this. The church has a long history of good works in caring for the outcasts, the hopeless causes, the ones who could not pay back, the dirty jobs, the missions far off the beaten track.

I personally have always been impressed by and drawn to this type of salting in our society. As a boy I remember a man who inspired me greatly. As an adult, I do not agree with his theology but I cannot dispute the dramatic effect of his witness. His name was Émile Léger. He was the Cardinal of Quebec's Catholic Church. As a Cardinal he had charge over 6 million French Canadian Catholics, he sat on a committee of Cardinals from which the Pope was chosen. He lived like a prince and had a limousine and dined with CEO's and powerful politicians. Then one day he announced that he was giving up his duties in order to go to Africa and live among a leper colony in order to minister to them in the name of Christ. He stayed for 20 years. He never impressed me much when he lived in the ivory tower of the Catholic Church's hierarchy, but when he left to live in a hut with the lepers - I was very impressed, very inspired.

Inspired not by his position, but rather by his sacrifice in doing a good work.

Salt Through Influence

For Christians living in a democracy there is another way to permeate our society with Christ's presence. We have ballots, and freedom in elections which means we can make a difference by influencing government's power. Government has done a mixed job of leading in this country.

We have a good system of defense, transportation, many valuable services that the government provides. On the other hand, government has also removed the influence of God in school, law and government. It has also made it easier to kill unborn children and contributed to the moral decline of our nation. The Bible says that we should respect government (Romans 13:1) and pray for government (I Timothy 2:1)

I believe that the church has forgotten the idea that God hears the prayers of the righteous (James 5:16) and they can have a great effect not only for the sick, but for the sick government. The Bible gives no instruction as far as being involved in politics is concerned but there are many examples of Godly people using their influence for the purpose of good:

  • Esther appealed to the king
  • Cornelius built synagogues
  • Crispus lent his building for teaching

In a democracy we have the opportunity to speak out for what we believe is right and so this gives Christians 2 opportunities to salt:

  • Christian men and women can run for office in order to influence the system from within.
  • Christians can affect the system from the outside by supporting candidates who promote Christian principles.

No government stands without God's permission but God often uses the influence of many people to lift up or tear down what pleases or displeases Him - and that includes governments - can't influence if you don't vote. We can salt with evangelism, lifestyle or good works every day but the opportunity to salt through influence only comes along every few years - let's make sure we salt the ballot box too.

Summary

Some people think that the ultimate purpose in life is to taste as many delights that this world has to offer. Their eyes are filled with desire, their god is their appetite, their life is simply a guest for satisfaction. Jesus calls His followers to give the world the delightful taste of Christianity by flavoring it with:

  • The good news of salvation
  • The good example of holy living
  • The good works of mercy
  • The good influence of God's will

If you're not a Christian I call on you to give up your self-centered life and become the salt of Christ by repenting of your sins and being baptized today. If you've lost your saltiness and would like to have your Christian flavor back come today acknowledging your faults so God can forgive, restore and use you to affect the world once again for Christ.

Whatever your need, don't let fear, pride or Satan hold you back from coming to the lord now.

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Barry Day,
Pulpit Minister,
San Diego - Canyon View Church of Christ