Some people hide behind seasonings, especially ones they consider religious seasonings.
by Marilyn Mackenzie
December 13, 2004
My honey and I ate dinner at a nice restaurant this weekend. Included with dinner was the soup of the day, vegetable of the day, choice of potato and salad. The soup was chicken rice, and my honey thought it was quite good. I ate it, but as I did, I really wondered about the taste. It had far too much salt in it for my liking. And having been around a while, and having had the experience of eating in not-so-wonderful restaurants in my lifetime, that the soup had a bit too much salt concerned me. I've known restaurants that disguised food that was almost ready for the trash can by adding a bit too much salt. By doing this, they extended the life of foods that should have been discarded. In other words, slightly tainted foods were hidden behind the abundance of salt.
I pondered this later that evening, while I also waited to see if a slight case of food poisoning might appear. It didn't, but I thought again about the restaurant experience as I drove around the next day as well. As a writer, I know that sometimes my ponderings mean some other thoughts are just beyond the surface of my mind. And so it was on Sunday afternoon.
I realized that some people are just like that soup. They are just on the border of being tainted, but they hide behind seasonings, especially ones they consider religious seasonings.
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth. 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." (Matthew 5:13 NIV)
Even in Jesus' day, people had learned that it was often easier to conceal themselves within society, rather than face rejection and persecution for their religious beliefs. The Lord explained in Matthew 5:13-16 the purpose for righteous attitudes and actions. By being distinctive as a Christian, a true believer can glorify God and make positive contributions to society.
To illustrate His point, Jesus used two illustrations: salt and light. Salt was very common in biblical times and was mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. It was used as a seasoning; it also accompanied sacrifices and was used in some cultures to seal an agreement. It was a seasoning, a symbol of purity and perpetuation. But there were quantities of salt on the shores of the Dead Sea of the fossil or rock variety. The outer layer of this salt was useless as a seasoning ingredient, because of impurities. Maybe that's would Jesus was speaking of when He said that a Christian who compromises with the world around him loses his purity and usefulness to God and society.
Christians don't need to announce to the world - verbally, that is - that they are followers of the Lord Jesus. They just need to follow His example and the world will know. And if the world cannot tell? Well, apart from a Christian lifestyle, can a Christian ever really glorify God or contribute to society? I think not.
People of faith often pick and choose what Bible verses they want to follow, which ones are important to them. They want to embrace the first words of this lesson from Jesus: "You are the salt of the earth." Those who do so are the arrogant ones, strutting around and being judgmental of all the rest. But Jesus didn't stop with those words. He added, "But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?" Indeed, how can it?
There is a way, of course. Tainted people are much easier to cleanse than tainted foods. Tainted foods can be covered with seasonings and disguised as good food. But the food is truly tainted, it will be discovered - often by the illness of people ingesting it.
Tainted people can be redeemed. That's why Jesus came - to take our sin - so that we might live eternally with our Father in Heaven. Yes indeed, tainted people can be redeemed. But not if they are carrying around Bibles and thumping people on the heads...with just the portions of the Bible they choose to read and follow.
I heard an interesting comment from a pastor on the radio last week. I wish I knew his name, so I could credit him, but I don't. He said, "Christians should judge their own but love everyone."
Light was the other illustration Jesus used. The purpose of light is to illuminate, to shine forth plainly in the darkness (Matthew 5:15); therefore, the Christian can only fulfill his purpose by being conspicuous in his lifestyle. Again, that doesn't mean shouting from the rooftops. It means showing people who and what you are by the way you live.