February 4, 2018: Epiphany 5

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for making our lives savory and tasteful!  Thank You for giving us that added ingredient: spiritual salt, to take away our blandness.  Such gifts enlighten our lives and make us into beacons of hope and confidence to a world which needs both very desperately.  Amen


TEXT:  Matthew 5: 13-16

Dearly Beloved By Christ:  

High blood pressure is the bane of our modern world.  Most of us suffer from hypertension, as it is known, including me.  When the doctor takes your blood pressure and decides you have this problem, they try to treat it.  Meditation and learning to relax your body and mind—Christians do this via prayer—are important.  Exercise helps burn off adrenaline surges which are known to raise your blood pressure.  Trying to avoid stress—we know that as sin’s influence on our lives—is another building block in their arsenal.  And then there is a healthy diet and lessening your intake of salt.  Excess salt raises your BP.  Although it is vital for bodily functions, too much salt causes you to retain water (as it attracts it) thus putting stress on your body and your heart.  This goes hand in hand with excess weight, too.  So, they give you pills to take which lessen salt in your system.  Salt is good, but too much salt is bad.

Salt has an amazing history.  In ancient times soldiers and workers were often paid their wages in salt!  The Romans often did this.  Salt camel caravans trekked across the desert numbering in the 100’s of camels to bring this life-sustaining commodity to city folk.  In those days they didn’t chemically “make” salt, they had to mine it.  Sometimes they would find salt veins and chip away at them, but usually it came from sea water which they laboriously evaporated and carefully scraped off the residue of salt on those mud mounds.  

We also know that salt makes food tasty!  It is a flavor enhancer.  We call this: making food savory, for flavorful.  Old hunters used to put a salt lick out in the forest to attract animals so they could be harvested more easily.  In America, people take salt for granted.  We consume way too much of it.  But we want flavorful food, don’t we?


Salt, or sodium chloride, is one of the most stable substances known to man.  Apparently the chemical bond between sodium and chloride is almost impossible to break.  That’s why this little text has perplexed some scientists.  First, Christ likens us as Christians to salt.  “You are the salt of the earth.”  With the background I’ve given you, that’s a huge compliment!  Salt is essential to life.  Salt preserves food and prevents it from spoiling—think salted meat and fish.  So, we as Christians preserve life on planet earth.  Because we have God’s forgiveness of sins as our possession, God extends His preservation of life here because of us!  As I’ve said many times, We literally ARE heavenly VIPS!  

Now comes the conundrum: “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 by men.”  Salt cannot quit being salt.  The chemical bond between sodium and chloride cannot just cease.  So, was Jesus mistaken?  No!  Saltiness describes the savory character of salt.  It describes its flavorfulness.  And that quality CAN be destroyed.  It happens when rain, or water, washes away the taste factor from salt.  There are open salt veins in the mountains around Judea.  The surface salt is basically worthless in that it has no flavor.  So, you chip it away and eventually you reach a place where water hasn’t leached the savory nature of salt away and mine that.  The people knew all this as they listened to Jesus.  They also knew that the worthless salt could kill vegetation (think of road salt along highways today) so they would take the dross and throw it on pathways to kill the weeds, thus trampling upon it.  Question: Is the subtle leaching away of your Christian character by the rainwater of sin  destroying your Christian saltiness?  If so, better to keep it safe and dry under the umbrella of Christ’s love.  After all, we all want flavorful lives to offer to Our Maker.  So, avoid sin and temptation.  Avoid being rendered unsavory before God.  Don’t be afraid to stand out and let your Christian character be seen and heard by all.  Jesus wasn’t.


Next, Jesus expands on this truth.  He uses another common image, light.  “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  We take light for granted—until the power goes out.  Most of us have never been anywhere that was totally dark.  But before electricity was made available to all, darkness was common.  Yes, they had the moon and stars at night, but when it was cloudy or the moon was in its dark phase,  you literally could not see your hand in front of your face.  Fire, candles, and oil lamps were the antidote.  But sometimes they weren’t available, either.  So, you groped your way along fearful of any noise because you just could not see anything.  Likewise, if you suddenly saw a light, a city of flickering fires or candles burning in the distance, you were attracted to it.  It’s a primordial safety net, isn’t it?  Well, that primordial nature of light is stamped on our genes by Jesus Christ, our Maker, Who is the Light of the World.  God is Light. In Him dwells no darkness at all.  That’s why we genetically crave the light even today.  Hiding light is akin to hiding from God.

So, light is meant to be seen.  “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Faith in Jesus as your Savior as given each of you enlightenment.  Each of you reveals His goodness, grace, and joyousness—the absence of fear—in your lives.  Because you know that ultimately heaven is your home, you possess joyous serenity.  Hiding the best of what God has made you into—well, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?  How can you hide who you are?  Why would you ever want to hide it?  Being Godly isn’t shameful, sin is.  That’s why evil loves darkness and hates the light.

Christ spoke these truths to the crowd right after He spoke to them the Beatitudes which we outlined last week.  In hearing those words of how Christians are blest by God, the people now needed some encouragement to implement those truths.  Our lesson is that encouragement.  When people clearly see: faith, hope, love, forgiveness, confidence, goodness, and joyous serenity in your life—well, it banishes darkness and unsavory character.  And then they ask: “Where did all this come from?”  And of course, you happily tell them: Jesus Christ, Our Savior!  We all like savory food and sunny days.  You have both, you are both, in Christ.  And there’s nothing better……Amen