To follow Jesus is to be Salt in our World (Matthew 5:13). What can we make of this obscure metaphor?
Salt has many uses. In cooking it is best used in moderation, just a small amount of salt in a pot of food can make a difference while too much can spoil a meal. We are often called to be this gentle, almost imperceptible, transforming presence which makes a positive difference to those around us. This difference can be so gentle that it can be all too easily missed by the wider world. Simple acts of kindness, money given without great fanfare, hospitality offered, the homeless fed and sheltered, food banks stocked and staffed. As Christians we are called to a gentle gospel of quiet humble service to those most in need. Even if we can only do a little bit it is important to begin, to do something and to trust the fruits to God.
But salt is not always a subtle substance. There is the expression “To rub salt in the wound”. Salt can be used as a way of cleaning wounds, in the immediate moment this cleaning causes pain but this pain is for a greater healing. As Christians we have a vocation to be this salt in the wounds of humanity. There are times when we are called to make painful challenges in the pursuit of healing. We are called to challenge our society’s addictions to over-consumption, to sectarianism, to excluding the foreigner and to the accumulation of wealth. We are called to challenge unfair trade, tax evasion, the trade in arms, destructive fossil fuel extraction and cuts in services for the most vulnerable. We are called to challenge the demonization of the poor, the immigrant and the Muslim. When we become this salt in the wounds of humanity those we challenge will inevitably feel pain, and in their fear will undoubtedly send some of this pain back in our direction. Such is our privilege as part of the body of Christ, to share in the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24).
We are salt of the earth. We must not lose our saltiness.