There Is Salt Between Us.
Did you know, as Christians, Jesus called us the “salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13. At face value there isn’t a whole lot to really miss in this passage, right? It is fairly easy to understand what it would entail to be salt… it preserves, it flavors, etc. So, cool, yeah, I am salt.
However, Jesus doesn’t stop there, he also infers with his question that if the salt loses its saltiness, it can’t be made salty again. In fact its only use is to be thrown out and trampled under foot.
So here are a few things. Salt was a highly valuable commodity. It just so happens that it was in abundance in the region (see story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19). This brought wealth and prosperity to Israel as they would trade and barter with salt. People would make deals and agreements together by eating meals and exchanging salt in the meal. Some common phrases in these dealings was the agreement that “There is salt between us” or “He has eaten my salt”, which was the acceptance of that person’s wisdom, advice, generosity, hospitality, etc.
Also, salt was not shaken from handy dandy containers on the table. It was usually a block taken from the near by mountain by the Dead sea. The top would have been salt and the bottom would have been salt mixed with dirt and rock, as mountains usually tend to be. So when the salt content ran out the owner would take the remaining dirt salt and throw it on the foot path to kill the weeds and grass. Do you see the picture? “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.”
All of these ideas stem from covenants made by God between man(Israel) and understood from the Torah through salt covenants. (Leviticus 2:13, Ezra 4:14, Numbers 18:19, 2 Chron 13:5). The basic idea is that something is given by God, salt, offered back to Him, salted sacrifice. I know, I know… very odd to us, but I am going somewhere, I promise!
The cool thing for me in this whole break down, was getting a better understanding of what the Jewish people would have thought about what Jesus was talking about when he referred to them as salt of the earth. You are not just to preserve against corruption, but to be hospitable, to be wise, to be generous, to make relationships that bear your word and Mine. For me, this analogy came alive with this understanding.
Our gospel bearing should be one of “salt between us” types of relationships!!! So let’s go be salt!!