What can you tell me about salt? No, seriously--I'm asking. I'm trying to understand something.
Jesus calls His followers the "salt of the earth." Back in January or February (hint: this is one of those topics I've been mulling over since then which I have been to lazy to blog about), the small group I belonged to started going through the Sermon on the Mount. (We finished it about a month ago, if that tells you anything.)
Now, I've been going to church since before I was born, and I've heard this sermon sermonised in all sorts of ways, and I still remember the first time I heard anyone (it was my dad) point out that salt not only flavours things, but acts as a preservative. The idea was that we were to go to a world that was decaying and step in with flavour and life. Or something along those lines. I found it pretty inspiring at the time. Evidently I still kind of do, because I still long for my life to have that kind of an impact, but the whole preservative thing doesn't exactly surprise me anymore.
So I was surprised when Pete, who was leading the discussion on this passage, brought up something called the "covenant of salt." It's an Old Testament thing, and I don't really understand it very well, because I don't remember ever having heard about it or noticed it before, but apparently sacrifices to God had to be presented with salt--otherwise they wouldn't be accepted.
I would just like to say--I always knew people who like salty better than sweet were right.
No--actually, I would like to say: why?
And then I would like to ask, as we asked in our small group, what implications and significance does that Old Testament salt-fixation have on the understanding of this passage? If we're the salt of the earth, and salt was necessary for presenting an offering to God, then are we, by our interactions with the rest of the world, tacitly presenting them to God all the time? What does that mean? And is there some kind of--maybe not full, but partial--"acceptance" of the people that Christians are around when Christians present them to God? Maybe that's totally heretical, but I can't help wondering. Some kind of probation or something?
I sort of feel like it's another way of saying (also drawing on the sacrificial system) that we are a "kingdom of priests." I know Jesus is the One True Mediator, but I get the feeling that, by virtue of Him, our job is basically to mediate between the rest of the world and God all the time. Not saving everybody else--only Jesus can do that--but sort of representing our fellow human beings who haven't trusted Jesus yet, to God--bringing them into His presence for "His consideration."
I know, I know. That makes it sound like God doesn't see the sparrow that falls or the non-Christian who doesn't know any Christians, and I don't think that's right either. But I do think there has to be something significant about this detail. It feels heady and daunting and surprising to me. As if nothing on earth could be more vital than for every single one of us to get out of our saltshaker. As if everything I think and say and do had better be one big prayer.