Monday, June 20, 2016

Sugar and Salt

Here lately I have been reading the Book of John. It's been part of a devotional I've been doing where you read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, skip to Acts, and finally read John. While I was reading this morning in John 12, these two verses caught my attention:
"Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:42&43)
This reminded me of a conversation myself, my dad and a group of people had during Sunday School recently about Matthew 5:13, how Christians are called to be "the salt of the earth". Salt comes in various forms and types and contain many different properties that are quite beneficial to humans. For instance, Pink Himalayan salt has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for a good reason. This particular salt is the purest salt available and contains all 84 elements that are found naturally in the body (CureJoy). With its high value of beneficial minerals, it can make a huge difference in the body. Also, salt has its practical uses, most noticeably with the preservation of meats and food. 

In the times of the Bible, salt was very precious, valuable, and treasured. It was often used as a means of currency for Roman soldiers (BibleStudy online). It's not precious because of the fact that it was rare - it's far from rare! It was considered precious because of its usefulness and the impact that it had on the environment that it was in. However, when salt loses its ability to flavor, it is good for nothing. 

So, that leaves me thinking: how salt-like are we actually being in the world? Are we seeking the praise of God, or are we seeking the praise of man? When you think of Christians being like salt, we're to be pure, yet engage our culture to bring glory to God. We're supposed to let our light shine before men, that they'll see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). In many ways, I know I haven't acted like salt - I've acted more like sugar.

Sugar looks a lot similar to salt with both having a crystalline form, yet has completely different chemical attributes. Sugar has the ability to attract things such as ants and other insects. When you taste a sweet treat, the sweetness of the treat usually feeds off of the flavors that currently present. Salt, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily repel things, but alters whatever it interacts with (mostly for the better). Without sounding to nerdy, salt can suppress some bitter qualities of a food to allow a greater perception of other flavors. 

So many Christians today act more like sugar than salt - they conform to whatever image is present in the world at the moment, to be "all things to all men," without any clear intentions to sharing the Gospel and saving the lost. How can we engage our culture with the truth of the Gospel if we haven't embraced it ourselves? Luring people in, giving them a form of the Gospel that is more palatable for them isn't doing anything except for hurting everyone involved. It hurts those that are lost, because they aren't giving the unadulterated, explicit Gospel. It also hurts the image of Christ, because not all of those that bear His name has true, Gospel-centered intentions.

I'm not saying here that we have to become legalistic, like the Pharisees, but I am saying that we, as followers of Christ, should be more mindful of how we represent ourselves. 

Questions to think on:

  1. How have you failed in being "salt-like"? This can range from how you act to what you say. For me, I know that one area that I've failed to be like salt is in the area of speech - I'm not always that nice to talk to (at times!). 
  2. In what areas have you become extremely conforming in your standards in God? Meaning, how have you diminished the value of the Gospel in order to appease those around you?
  3. How can you improve from these things?

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