“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5: 13).
In the Mediterranean world of Jesus, salt is an essential ingredient to provide fuel for their earthenware ovens. Camel or donkey dung is collected, mixed with salt, molded in patties, and placed in the sun to dry. A slab of salt is positioned at the base of the oven. Due to the catalytic properties of salt in the dung, when burnt it creates fire, and fire in turn gives light.
Interesting metaphor, isn’t it?
Salt by itself is useless, but salt mixed with dung causes fire and light. If disciples are called to be salt, then they ought to be mixed with the dung of humanity to become fire and light.
That’s the hard part. If we mix with the dung of the earth, then we begin to smell like it; we get trapped in the mess and muck, the chaos of their lives. Sad, sometimes we prefer the option of being salt in a bottle in the supermarket of life. No hassle. No heat. No chaos, just a cool air-conditioned life.
To give light, the disciple burns away something of itself to become light. Is it that burning is a metaphor for sacrifice? As we interact with the dung of humanity, disciples sacrifice to become light and for humanity to see light in the actions of disciples.
Perhaps this Jamaican saying can throw light on the challenge to disciples:
To suck salt outta wood’n spoon.
Translation: To suck salt from a wooden spoon.
Meanings And Explanations: Use your skills and abilities to overcome difficult situations and conditions instead of looking for the easy way.
Christian discipleship is not an easy way. In summary, it’s three-fold:
- Be removed from the easy life of bottled salt on the supermarket shelves of life.
- Be seasoned with the dung of the earth.
- Be burned or sacrificed to produce fuel and light.