Let us pray: Dear Savior, because of sin all things in this life are tainted. Earthly love, human happiness, friendships, even the food we eat and the weather we live through—all have their ups and also their downs. Teach us today to put all those things into proper focus—appreciating the good and enduring the bad. But more importantly, teach us anew the wonderful truth that every single spiritual blessing which deals with our soul’s salvation is totally holy, totally good, and can be embraced in complete confidence and joy. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LIFE PRESERVER OF DROWING SINNERS LIKE US!
TEXT: Mark 9: 50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Salt. Sodium chloride. It seems we cannot live with it and we cannot live without it. The absence of salt in the human body leads to cellular breakdown and organ failure. So, it’s vital not only to enhance the flavor of food, but to actually preserve human life. Since time immemorial human beings have known that fact and craved salt. They mined it when deposits were discovered. They carefully leached it out of seawater. In ancient times salt was literally more valuable than gold, often being weighed and sold as a lb of salt for a lb of gold! Trade routes and camel caravans were drawn up on the basis of salt sources and conveying it to trade centers. We take salt for granted. But, almost every culture until ours did the opposite.
Salt has a variety of uses besides human consumption. It preserves food—think ham, salt cod, and the like. It melts snow and ice which promotes safety. It is an excellent way to clean and degrease a cast iron fry pan. Recently I discovered a recipe for salt roasted potatoes which is delicious! You roast baked potatoes on a bed of salt in a covered dish. They don’t absorb the salt at all. Instead the salt absorbs moisture from the potatoes and then releases it back into them slowly. It’s kind of like getting a creamy, mashed baked potato! Amazing.
But, there is a down side to salt, too. Too much of it in our diet can lead to hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Over 90 million Americans suffer from hypertension whether they realize it or not. Some of us take blood pressure medication which can include pills to pull the excess salt out of us. I’ve been monitoring food at the grocery for its salt content. Many items are truly horrible! I haven’t eaten a ham dinner in over a year due to its super-high salt content. And when excess road salt gets into a community water supply, well, we all have to drink water, don’t we? You can use “Lite Salt” which replaces a bunch of the sodium chloride with potassium chloride. It helps. But the potassium can taste bitter, so use it sparingly. Personally, I just go reasonably salt free with Mrs. Dash’s seasoning!
Christ refers to salt on two occasions in the Gospels. The most well-known passage is from Matthew 5:13 where He tells us that Christians are “the salt of the earth.” That is, we are the flavorful seasoning of the human race and through us and because of us God preserves, protects, and blesses nations and peoples. So, if you think we Christians are impotent and don’t matter, you’re wrong. The other reference used by Christ for salt is our text. And in this section Jesus touches on both the positive and negative qualities of salt in a spiritual sense. First, after discussing how easy it is for us to fall into evil actions and to be corrupted by malicious intent, He warns of a hellish future for the unrepentant. In describing hell “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” He goes on to add this: “Everyone will be salted with fire.” That’s a reference to how warfare was conducted in those days. Literally, it was scorched earth. When Rome finally took their long-time nemesis, Carthage, (modern day Libya) they burned everything to the ground and salted the fields and the wells. That way no food could be grown and no drinkable water could be had for decades. Human life was made impossible to continue without terrible hardship. Folks, that’s hell in a nutshell.
But then Jesus goes on to discuss the positive side of salt. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with each other.” The image is of regular old sodium chloride. But the real meaning is spiritual forgiveness for all sins stemming from a cleansed heart. God’s salt is grace. Grace, or His no-strings attached forgiveness, won by Jesus on the cross, that grace is what truly preserves us. It is what gives us the unique flavor of the Christian heart. It is what gives birth to the fruits of the Spirit which hallmark us from the rest of the world: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Such “Jesus Salt” is truly good. It preserves our souls and gives meaning and flavor to our lives. But if we throw God’s grace aside, or take it for granted, or abuse His love and compassion for us by saying: “I can do this or that sin since I’ll be forgiven in the end anyway” well, isn’t that losing our saltiness? And then we’re stuck. None of us can create or manufacture God’s grace on our own. None of us can make God forgive us. Note well that true repentance is never an attempt to force God to forgive you and cleanse your hurting conscience. No, true repentance is God humbling the proud in us so as to exalt the humble by means of His free gift of grace! In short, we cannot make unsalty salt salty again, but God can and does because of Jesus Christ alone!
So, the moral to this story is: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” You are a child of God. You possess God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is upon you that the Holy Spirit has poured His comfort and peace. So, work at not throwing that Godly salt away. Live each day as if it were your last. Live each day as if tomorrow you’ll see heaven. Live in wonderment and awe at God Almighty being good to you. Live each day without fear because “who can separate us from the love of Christ?”—Nothing. Naada! With God’s salt inside of you, your eternal life is preserved. Thus, if you’re at peace with God and at peace with yourself, you can also live and be at peace with each other.
I started out this morning by saying: “Salt, you cannot live with it and you cannot live without it.” That’s true of sodium chloride. However, God’s grace is not sodium chloride, is it? So, let’s end with this instead: God’s Salt: Real Life Is Impossible Without It…..