"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. -- Matthew 5: 13 (NLT)
We continue in the Sermon on the Mount with the words of Jesus teaching us what our role is supposed to be on this earth as His followers. Jesus was always teaching in word pictures and colorful metaphors and here we see that we are supposed to be the salt of the earth. When we think about salt, we can usually think of three primary uses we have for it. For centuries salt has been used as a preservative. The more popular usage today is of course for flavoring. And the often forgotten role is that of a deicing agent during the winter. Let us look at our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ by examining these three areas in relation to how the Apostles fared in their day.
Since before written history existed, salt has been used to preserve food. The reason why it works so well as a preservative is that it is an antibacterial agent. It prevents the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria. It preserves. When we preserve something we are seeking to maintain its integrity. We are protective of it. We prevent anything from distorting it. That is our first role as Christians who are called to be the salt of the earth. We are to maintain the integrity of the Gospel to a lost and dying world. We are to be protective of it. Not of a local church beloved but of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we can fall into the habit of church worshipping instead of God worshipping. We are to prevent anything from distorting the Gospel. Paul warned the church at Galatia when they were struggling with this:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! -- Galatians 1: 6-9 (NIV)
Let him be eternally condemned! Another version says let him be accursed! I came across and article a couple of years ago about a movement with the United Kingdom to rewrite the Ten Commandments! To make them somehow more culturally relevant. Not coveting your neighbor's house or wife has been rewritten as "seek contentment." Honor your mother and father is now "keep peace with your parents." You may say this all sounds silly but realize that 600 churches in England are already using these. Recently here in America we saw Perry Noble do the exact same thing; butchering the Ten Commandments to make them more palatable to people. The United States has been long known for one distortion after another when it comes to the Bible. Whether it is the insidious evils of prosperity doctrine which turns Christ into an ATM for our whims or the softer seeker-friendly heresies that removes the sufficiency of Christ; America continues to lead the Christian world in not preserving the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most often heard refrain from prosperity supporters is that God wants everyone to prosper. There are two big problems with that. First it is inaccurate. There are plenty of examples of people in the Bible who did not "prosper" according to the materialistic views of prosperity doctrine. Secondly, it distorts what true prosperity is. Prosperity is when you are saved and have eternal life. Prosperity is when you have good health and a job and know where your kids are at night. Jesus Christ died on an old wooden cross so that we can be reconciled to God, not so we can drive a Ferrari. The common refrain from supporters of the seeker friendly model is that we need to somehow meet people within their frame of reference, as opposed to present the Gospel to them. That somehow the Gospel itself is no longer culturally relevant to this generation. That now you have to essentially trick them into salvation. This is of course in contradiction to what the Bible teaches us:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. -- Colossians 2: 8 (NIV)
The world teaches that it is all about us but once we are saved, it must become all about Him. Not what we think we know about Him, but rather what God has already given us -- His Gospel. It is His Gospel that breaks the yokes we find ourselves slaves to. It is His Gospel that sets us free. But then we get into the absolute truth of His Word and somehow confuse it for our own words. We can become self-absorbed and confuse His absolute truth as somehow being our own. The result is a self-righteous spirit that acts the opposite of salt. It promotes the growth of bacteria within our character and doctrine. Unchecked, it continues to spread until things begin to rot from the inside out. Even the disciples themselves were not immune to this.
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. -- Mark 9: 33-34 (NIV)