“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.” Mark 9:49-50 (The Message)
‘Preservatives’ have the ability to protect from decay or spoilage. Another word for preservative is stabilizer…
“Everyone will be purified by fire as a sacrifice is purified by salt. Salt is good; but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have the salt of friendship among yourselves, and live in peace with one another.” (Good News Translation)
When we preserve something, we make sure that it lasts. We protect it from anything that might cause its current quality or condition to deteriorate. We maintain it.
Salt is a great preservative, as long as it remains… salty.
Friendship is a great preservative, as long as it remains… salty.
Jesus’ words here can be boiled down to two simple yet profound directives:
- Be salty.
- Practice saltiness.
Salt is, by its very nature, generous. It is generous in the sense that its very purpose is to lend its best qualities to make something else, well… better.
But at the same time, salt is… salt. It doesn’t vary much from shaker to shaker. All of it basically looks the same. All of it basically acts in the same ways when used. There just aren’t too many variations on salt.
And the thing about salt is that it just isn’t that special on its own. Salt is meant to complement flavors that already exist! The value of salt is negligible when it sits in isolation – in the shaker, on the counter, by itself. Salt does its best work in combination, and it is only a commodity when it is put to good use.
Salt cannot fulfill its purpose unless it comes into contact with food. There’s nothing to protect, enhance or preserve inside the salt shaker. There’s only salt. And hoarding salt is utterly pointless, since its only merit is the effect it has on something else.
Judicious salting is critical, however. Too much salt can ruin a meal, which is why we salt to taste. We can carefully measure, as if following a recipe in a cookbook, which is actually a good way to get used to knowing how much salt to use. But salting well is also an art form; something to aspire to, like cooking by instinct or using recipes as suggestions rather than rules.
Whichever way we opt to salt, it’s important to remember not to lay it on too thick.
All of this wisdom applies just as readily to those of us who inhabit holy salt shakers in the Kingdom of God!
Salty people are, by their very nature, generous people. They are generous in the sense that their very purpose is to lend their best qualities to make others, well… better.
But at the same time, people are people. We don’t vary all that much from house to house or church to church. Most of us look, in basic ways, the same. Most of us act in basically the same ways. There just aren’t too many variations on people.
And the thing about you and me is that, according to Jesus, we just aren’t that special on our own. Salty people are meant to complement the variety and flavors of humanity that already exist in the world!
The value of salty people is negligible when we sit in isolation – in the church pew, in our Bible study, by ourselves. Salty people do their best work in community, and we are of greatest value when our qualities are put to good use.
Salty people cannot fulfill our purpose unless we come into contact with others. There’s nothing to protect, enhance or preserve inside our own salt shaker’s walls. There’s only more salt. And hoarding salt by only spending time with other salty people is utterly pointless, since our only merit is the effect our salt can have to bring out the flavor in someone else.
Judicious salting is critical, however. Too much salt can ruin a friendship, which is why we salt to taste. And we take lessons from the Chef Himself, whose artistic and instinctual cooking sets the example by which we aspire to live.
And it’s every bit as important with people as with food to remember not to lay it on too thick. A little bit of salt goes a long way toward making a tasty masterpiece, whether our environment is the kitchen or the community!
When people are salty, their presence has a sort of stabilizing effect on those around them.
Salty people make some things last and keep others from deteriorating or falling into a state of decay. Things like attitudes. Perspectives. And friendships.
When my saltiness is showing, everything and everyone I touch stand to benefit from the fact that I am there.
Not because the world is that bad and I am that good.
It’s just that we are better together.