Friday, March 7, 2014

Salt Continued

The second part of Jesus' statement - You are the salt of the earth - is equally cryptic, as I pointed out yesterday. But if salt loses it saltiness, how does it ever get it back. How does salt get salty in the first place? What make salt? (Bear with me.)

There is a really long chemistry-based answer available to us, which includes many words and phrases I have not heard in more than a decade, since the time I sat in advanced Chemistry in high school. Yeah. Like I remember any of that. The basic idea is that salt is sodium chloride, so it takes both sodium and chloride to form. They bond in the perfect way to season your french fries, and salt is born.

The mining, or harvesting, of salt is one of the oldest mineral-man processes we know. For thousands of years, man has been obtaining salt from its natural sources in a couple of ways. First, through the salt mines. This is where salt exists in other deposits and is extracted from the minerals around it. It's a tedious process, which is how we got the phrase "working in the salt mines." And the process often involves water, to help draw out and isolate the salt. The water is then desalinated, to end up with both salt and water. 

The primary way man has obtained his salt, though, cuts out the work of the mines and simply strips the precious seasoning from the sea waters of the world. Desalination at its best. You take the water, remove the salt, and you're left with both water and salt, each in a more usable form.

The problem I have with this concept, as it relates to God's process of salting creation, is that it requires the removal of water. It always requires the sodium chloride to be removed from the dihydrogen monoxide. As far as I know, there is not one reference in God's word of Him taking His people out of the water; He's always pouring living water into us. So I cannot fathom an instance in which God harvests us, to use us, as the salt of the earth in the chemical sense because it would require an action contradictory to His word. 

Of course, He could be saying that we are the salt of the earth precisely because we are wrapped in His living water, but let's not mess up my train of thought, ok?

So back to this: how does a man be salt anyway? I think the answer is rather simple, and this one takes us back to Genesis and the story, yes, of Lot's wife.

Lot's wife - the example of holy disobedience. God is ready to rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. And by divine grace, He is going to rescue Lot and his family first. The messengers of the Lord come to Lot and order them to run, to run into the hills, into the nearest town, and escape the coming destruction. The only caveat? Do not look back. Lot's wife, of course, looks back and is instantly turned into a pillar of salt.

The answer to the question, then, of how does a man become salt, is that he looks at what God is doing.

Sure, in the case of Lot's wife, this was disobedience. It didn't work out. It wasn't the way God intended it. But the truth of the story is that she looked back to see what was happening, and when she saw what God was doing, she turned to salt. 

Yesterday, I looked at the first part of Jesus' statement and presented a few reasons we may be salt. It may be the we are the flavor of the world. It may more likely be that we are the preservative of God's creation. It's fun to think that it might be up to us to ruin this place for anything but God. Regardless of what you believe, it still comes down to this: how are we to be salt in the world?

And I think the answer is plain as day: we have to look at what God is doing. It's that simple. When we keep our eyes on God at work among us, we can do any of the above...and infinitely more. 

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