Unsalty Salt

Years ago Christian contemporary musician Chris Rice had a song called “Smell the Color 9”. I also remember, “Screen Door on a Submarine” by Rich Mullins on his Songs CD. They have somewhat different messages, but both were fun to listen to. Neither one of them was ever a favorite of mine. However, just the other day Mullins’ lyrics popped into my mind… well, here is a low-res version of the song on YouTube that might refresh your memory of “Screen Door on a Submarine”:

Both songs had people asking, “Huh?” when they first heard the title. While the scriptural truths of those two songs were different, they both remind me of some of the absurd ways that we can present what it means to be a Christian in a post-Christian culture.

One of the metaphors we frequently use is being salt. Today salt has little value, but back in first-century Israel salt was about as big a deal as oil is to us today. Salt was the driving force behind ancient trade routes, battles and geopolitical power plays. Yep. Salt.

Being salt is an idea that came straight from Jesus himself, so it should make sense, right? In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?” That’s absurd.

First of all, how can salt stop being salty? When asked what to do with unsalty salt a later rabbi advised, “Salt it with the afterbirth of a mule.” Again, “Huh?” Not only is that confusing to most of us, it’s gross! If you know anything about livestock you might find this ancient joke funny. Mules are sterile. The rabbi’s point was that the question was silly. If you ask a stupid question… If salt loses its saltiness what good is it?

Jesus says the same about disciples who do not live out their calling. That idea is absurd. “Faith without works, baby, it just ain’t happening.” That’s Rich Mullins though, not Jesus.

I am certain that most of us do not see our lives or our beliefs as silly or absurd. However, it is silly if we call ourselves Christians, yet we do nothing to fulfill our purpose. God has a plan for you and has equipped you through the Holy Spirit for a specific reason at this specific time. Is your faith “works-less?” If so, why not make 2019 the year when your faith moves from silly to salty.

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