Do you ever get frustrated when you buy fresh produce from the supermarket and in a couple days it’s already looking like it’s ready to be thrown out?
Bananas, for us, is a big one.
They look nice and yellow and firm in the supermarket so you buy a bunch of them and then, not too many days later, they’re brown and soft and not much good for anything except making some banana muffins.
I saw with much interest on the internet recently a picture that a person posted of a McDonalds Hamburger that they had purchased 10 years ago and not eaten along with a serving of French fries.
The hamburger and fries looked no different to the day that they purchased it.
No mould and no decay.
And the reason why, according to “experts”, is because of the high salt content in the ingredients that preserve the meat and buns.
However, just because it looks like it did 10 years ago – we are warned that the salt has only preserved the looks of the hamburger and not the health aspect; you would get violently ill or perhaps die from eating it now.
And today we are warned that too much salt in our diets is not good even though it might enhance the flavour of the food we eat because manufacturers have already put high levels of salt in their foods to help the products last longer.
So it’s interesting that Jesus says that we are the salt in the world.
And he says that while salt is good it can have the danger of not being good when it loses its saltiness.
Now I believe that salt really can’t lose its saltiness but what it can do, as we see in today’s highly processed food procedures, it can be used in a way that might seem good because it preserves expiry dates – but in reality it causes health issues.
That’s probably more along the lines of what Jesus was teaching.
Sometimes we can use our Christian faith in ways that are good but sometimes we can use it that causes hurt to others.
Salt is good – essential even – but when it is used in a way that is unhealthy then it is not.
Salt is good:
Salt has healing qualities – washing or rinsing in salt water can sterilise and heal a wound.
But salt can also cause hurt to that same wound – as the term says- rubbing salt into a wound.
God’s Word can bring healing when a person weighed down by the law and sin hears the freeing Gospel that comforts them through forgiveness.
But God’s word can also be used to judge further a person who is already suffering from sin.
It can be the same sin and the same Word;
One can bring healing – the other can bring hurt.
It can be used to judge a person rather than comfort and heal.
Jesus taught that when he was accused of eating with sinners.
He said, the sick need a doctor.
The sinners already knew they were sinners – they were treated that way by the religious leaders.
They needed to hear that God loved and forgave them.
It didn’t mean they could do whatever they wanted.
No, the woman caught in adultery was first healed with the freeing word of God’s forgiveness – and then sent on her way – go and sin no more.
God’s word acts as Law and Gospel – rather than Gospel and Law.
It is the Gospel that is God’s proper work – God’s final word.
Salt is good.
Could you imagine food without salt?
Fish and chips without salt?
Eggs without salt.
Salt and Vinegar chips without salt.
And so too a world without the salting of Jesus’ love would be a world without flavour.
So we are to live in the world expressing our Christian faith in a way that brings flavour to the world rather than a bad taste to people’s mouths.
Similarly Jesus says that we are the light of the world and that no one hides a light under a bowl.
Two things would happen if we kept our light hidden under a bowl.
Firstly the light would go out because in Jesus’ day light came from fire which needed to be in the open.
And secondly the world would not see all the good things that God does in the world.
That’s why Jesus says – let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
God’s glory comes through us.
People can easily cite all the bad things the church has done – the sexual abuse; the wars they say are started by religion; the fighting between different religions and so on.
The purpose of what we do in the world as salt and light is to give glory to God.
It’s not to be God’s police officers using the law to weigh people down but to bring them to the Gospel..
The whole purpose for us as Christians is to be the light of God.
That’s why the very first thing God created was “let there be light”.
That was not the light of the sun which was only created on the 4th day.
No “let there be light” refers to the glory of God that was necessary to start life in the world and is still needed.
A light that God has place under our responsibility.
A world without God’s light is a world that has no life.
Even though the world doesn’t recognise God’s light and doesn’t always accept us as Christians, the same happened to Jesus – John 1 says – The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
So we are not to be discouraged if the world rejects us as it rejected Jesus, but to continue to be God’s salt and light in the world by living in ways that bring glory to God
And that is done, as Jesus says, by loving one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
But sometimes, just like rubbing salt into a wound, sometimes we are not examples of Christ’s love.
So we need to keep looking at ourselves and asking whether or not we are reflecting Jesus light and love in the world by what we do or say.
We know that, sadly, Christians and the church aren’t always good examples of salt and light in the world by the way we fail in living out God’s love in the world.
Jesus is calling us to be Love like salt.
Love is to make up the very essence of who we are and why we are here.
We come from God’s love, we return to God’s love.
That’s why Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus says – ALL the law and prophets depend on these 2 commandments.
As we search for the meaning of life and the questions of why am I here – why did God create me – it was to love.
What does it mean to be human – created in God’s image?
Well, John’s letter explains it in 1 John 4: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Now we can understand what Jesus meant if salt loses its saltiness that it is useless.
If we lose our love we are nothing:
St Paul says the same in his great love chapter – If I speak but do not have love, I am only a noisy gong. If I have the gift of prophecy and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love defines the very essence of who we are and whose we are.
And 3 things remain – faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.