Let us pray: Dear Savior, just as police are here to: serve, preserve, and protect the helpless and downtrodden, so You come through Your almighty Word of truth to do likewise in our lives. But such service and protection doesn’t take place in a spiritual vacuum. No, you use people like us, fellow Christians, to apply the salt of Your Word to preserve hurting souls from Satan’s attacks and to protect tender souls from being infected with deadly strains of sin. Remind us today not to shy away from such life-giving Christian service. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SALT OF OUR SOULS
TEXT: Mark 9: 50
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
A few weeks ago I made my first batch of home-make sauerkraut. Before you say: “Yuck!” hear me out. First, sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It is made by slicing cabbage very thin, adding some canning salt or sea salt, covering it with water and letting it sit for a few weeks. Those three little ingredients work together and the cabbage ferments under bacterial action. Bad bacteria are destroyed by the salt and good bacteria—probiotics—are created. In fact, a serving of kraut has as many or more probiotics in it than yogurt with very little caloric intake and no fat! After skimming off the foam that forms you can refrigerate it for weeks or even months for use. Old Germans used it as a way to preserve food for the long winter. I use it for my mother’s sauerkraut salad and for her apple, pork, sauerkraut coupled with allspice, meal—along with some brown sugar. It’s delicious. And salt makes it all happen.
I’ve been learning more about salt over this past year in my cooking. I seldom use iodized salt because it has no trace minerals and a bland taste. I use sea salt, sometimes gray salt with its unique tanginess, and occasionally pink salt which comes from glacial runoff in the Himalayan Mountains. You don’t need as much of these to enhance flavor and thus it helps your blood pressure.
In ancient times salt was literally worth its weight in gold. This is because without it life was unsustainable—we call this electrolyte imbalances today. Cells need some salt to maintain their balance and integrity. Also, they could only create salt from evaporating sea water and gathering up the leftovers. It was long, slow, and costly. Most of the ancient camel caravans transported salt to desert climates because it was so life-sustaining.
In more than one section of Scripture Christ talks about salt in positive terms. Recall: “You are the salt of the earth.” That is, Christians are the active source of preserving those around them. Our faith literally “rubs off” on others and God spares some punishments for the sake of those few, salty, elect believers. I truly believe America still exists as a country today because of the salty Christians who still inhabit our land—not because of a strong military or an advanced economic engine that is hiccupping as I speak. So, here Christ says this: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
In the verses preceding this, Jesus zeroes in on sloppy believers who employ their faith, their peace with God born of Christ’s forgiveness for all sins, as a license to say or do whatever they want without limitations. Some believers raise barriers to Godliness by gossiping about others, slandering them, or being thoughtless in their speech. Simple people hear that talk and conclude: “If that’s how a Christian talks, I don’t want to be a Christian. They’re no better than anyone else.” Kids especially pick up on this. They learn from adults. My old friend who teaches 1st graders says that he’s amazed every year at the nasty words children say and use. They learn from their parents. It’s sad. But, Christ says: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
Jesus then goes on to talk about how sloppy believers or thoughtless unbelievers can get themselves into trouble with God. Hands can do things which hurt others and yourself. Feet can lead us all into situations which destroy faith, reputations, and health. Eyes can focus on people or things which are shameful and/or as tempting as Eve’s forbidden fruit. In any case, His point is: get rid of the problem before it consumes you—yes even leading to the fires of hell.—Where “Everyone there will be salted with fire.” That’s a reference to salt’s destructive nature not its preserving one. Kind of like when you use rock salt on concrete and it eats it up or on your lawn and it kills all the grass.
Salt can be good or bad. It can be used positively or negatively. So it is with each of you. Your life as a Christian can be an uplifting experience for you, your family, and all you meet; or it can be used to turn people off to Christ’s love. How is that possible? Again our text tells us: “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness how can you make it salty again?” In cooking, salt can lose its punch through watering it down. Every ingredient sucks up some salt, potatoes more than others. So eventually even if salt were there to begin with, the food is tasteless. That’s the challenge for your Christianity. Living a sloppy faith and being diluted by the evil influences around us eventually cancels out your saltiness. Good Christian habits like praying before meals, having devotions every day, Sunday worship, encouraging the other faithful during the week, and keeping the commandments in mind as you wrestle with business decisions—those good habits can begin to drift and slack off and soon you find yourself unsalty and tasteless! And then the question is: “How can you make it salty again?”
Well, Christ tells us: “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” First, you get salt from its source. God’s salt is sourced from God’s Word, His Sacraments, and His service to you on Sunday morning. He has mined it in and through Christ and now Jesus gives you His life-sustaining salt through faith. Second, believers naturally share such salt with each other. So, hang out especially with fellow Christians and get salty.—Do so in peace and thanksgiving. Yes, “Be at peace with each other” instead of engaging clan warfare.
Today, Christ has provided and I have written down for you a little letter which could well be entitled: ALL ABOUT GODLY SALT. It’s really all about how to live a blessed life and avoid self-destruction. And if you take nothing else away from today, just recall how vital Godly Salt is to everything next time you reach for the shaker. Amen