There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, folks.
Since my kids were born, we’ve been in the throes of “I won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter sandwiches.” Try as I might to introduce them to different foods, my kids would, without fail, take the one required bite of any new dish, declare it to be disgusting, and either retreat from the table without eating (on a strong parenting day) or wait for me to prepare one of their “approved” foods (on a weak parenting day).
But my ten year-old son is FINALLY becoming more adventurous with his eating habits. He’ll now eat cheeseburgers (yes, you read that right–my kids wouldn’t even eat CHEESEBURGERS before now) and lasagna (regular AND spinach lasagna!). He devoured a whole plate of hot wings last weekend (mild, of course). And, because she wants to do everything her big brother does, my daughter is slowly starting to follow suit.
While this is great news for both my cooking duties and their nutrition, the edible escapades in our home have not come without a few lessons. A few nights ago, after watching my husband sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper upon his corn, my son decided he wanted to try some, too. And, of course, he had to put it on himself.
“Just a little bit,” I told him. “A little goes a long–“
But it was too late. He’d already dumped half the shaker of salt onto his kernels.
Seeing my face, he stuck out his chin and boldly declared he had meant to do that; he liked a lot of salt on his food. Keep in mind, my son had never salted any food in his life, and I use very little salt when cooking because I personally don’t like the taste. But, to a ten-year old, there is nothing more important than saving face. So he gathered the ear in his fingers; With a look of pure grit, he took a huge bite…
…and promptly started to gag.
I’m guessing he won’t be asking to salt his food again any time soon.
This funny (although not for my son!) little anecdote made me think about Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount, when he declares his followers to be the “salt of the earth.”(See Matthew 5:13) So much has been written about what this means and its ramifications for those of us seeking to be obedient to Christ. Salt as a preservative, as an example, that keeps meat from spoiling, much as Jesus does the same for our souls and we are called to help reduce the decay of the world around us by spreading the gospel.
But seeing my son spit out too much salt made me think of the command in a whole new way.
Salt gives flavor (just ask my son!). As Christians, acting as the “salt of earth” involves “flavoring” the world around us. We do this by living, not for ourselves, but for Christ: in service to others, not ourselves. It means using whatever gifts God has given us to bless others. (See 1 Peter 4:10) Just your taste buds perk up when they discover a bit of salt on an otherwise bland piece of food, so our culture will take notice when someone living in a way contrary to cultural norms–in service rather than selfishness, in restraint rather than over-indulgence–makes an appearance in their lives. The way of Christ is so radically different than the ways of the world, people can’t help but pay attention when a true follower of Jesus makes his or her presence known through loving, sacrificial actions.
I think that’s the way all Christians want live. I do. Those of us whose hearts have been radically altered by an encounter with Jesus can’t help but want to live in obedience to Him. We want to love. We want to serve. We want to bless.
It’s just that the world makes is so doggone hard sometimes, doesn’t it?
It’s so easy to look at humanity at large and see only its brokenness. We witness evil every single day, whether it be on the news, in our community, or–tragically–inside our own homes. Social media and news sites are full of stories of pure ugliness. Go to the grocery store–heck, you might not even have to go that far; just look at those around you on the DRIVE to the grocery store–and you’ll witness all kinds of selfish, inconsiderate, self-serving behavior. Sometimes, if we’re honest, we even see those same attitudes in ourselves.
Some days, our culture seems too far gone to save.
But that’s when I think back to the salt incident with my son. “A little goes a long way,” I told him (or, rather, tried to tell him). We are imperfect people. And yet, as Christians, we are also the salt of the earth. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus didn’t say to be the salt of the earth; He said, as His followers, we already are. It is our identity in Him. No matter how messed up the world is out there; no matter how messed up our hearts are in here. When we accept Christ and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we become the salt of the earth.
And a little bit of salt goes a long way.
I may not be able to change the culture at large. But I can make small choices every day that flavor the world around me. I can hold the door open for the lady at the store whose hands are full. I can let someone who has a smaller order go ahead of me in the checkout line. I can pay it forward at the drive-through. I can choose not to participate in gossip. I can send an encouraging card or text. I can post a praise rather than a problem on social media. I can sweep my neighbor’s walk while I’m out sweeping my own.
None of these actions are going to change the world. But I can guarantee it will cause those involved to take notice. You never know what small acts of obedience will open the door to people’s hearts. Picking up trash along a walk in my neighborhood may not cause anyone to have a radical conversion, but it may lead to an inkling. A question. A conversation.
You, my friends, are the salt of the earth. And, when used, a little bit of salt goes a long way.
Just ask my son.