Photo taken by Amar P.
The Sermon on the Mount. This was Jesus’ first attempt at public speaking, and what an attempt it was! The “simple carpenter’s son” unwrapped the scriptures in a way that God’s people had never heard before. The Good News was taken from the scribes and Pharisees with their highfaluting language, their rituals and burdensome rules and made available to the common man.
Today, we value these words of Christ which are often quoted and expounded upon but back then – it was completely revolutionary.
“You are the salt of the earth.” he told them. Salt? They probably wondered. Why salt? These people were no strangers to the myriad of uses for the condiments. After all, they lived in a desert! Salt was used to preserve meat. It was used to flavor food for humans and animals (Job 6:6, Isaiah 30:24). It was a form of currency. They used it to clean their babies. Even the offerings made to Jehovah had salt (Leviticus 2:13)!
But why was this Man telling them to be the salt of the earth? Was he telling them to be hospitable? In a word, yes.
The Israelites had long been established as God’s chosen people. They were to live their lives in accordance to the will of Jehovah, and were to be an example to their neighbors. Through their example all the nations of the world would be blessed as they came to know the Living God.
But what does all of that have to do with hospitality? you may ask. Imagine you’ve been invited to a party, one that you had to RSV for. You were asked to arrive at the venue 30 minutes before the start time. Since you had gotten enough notice, you made preparations to go – you carefully chose your outfit and picked up a suitable gift for the host. Only, when you got to the venue, there was no one there.
After you waited a few minutes the host rushed in and started bossing you around. Put this over there! Cover that! Pull that table here! By the time the other guests arrived you were dirty and exhausted. If that person invited you to another event, would you go?
Suppose you hadn’t come early. Imagine you had got there right on time but when you were about to walk in, you saw one of your friends rushing about to get things ready while the host sat watching. Is that hospitable?
My examples are a bit dramatic but the children of Israel were hosting a party. Their job was to make sure that everything was prepared in advance and that all the guests knew where the bounty had come from.
Each attendee would wonder at the superiority of the food, the entertainment and the conversations. They would look forward to attending another party planned by that host. Not only that, they would excitedly tell everyone they met about their experience and those persons would want to go to the next event.
Most of our food today has high sodium content. That’s because manufacturers use salt to enhance the flavor of food that would have little or no taste otherwise. As disciples of Christ we need to be like salt: indispensable, valuable, found everywhere and in everything – a little goes a long way. We should sweeten the bitter. We should be prudent. We should be a symbol of purity. We should honor our commitments to God, our fellow man and ourselves. People should know who were are.
If believers should lose their faith in God, what would make us unique? We would be exactly like everybody else – going through our daily lives from one moment to the next with no reason or purpose. Ugh! Just as salt without flavor is good for nothing - so is a life lived without purpose. Our purpose is to tell, live, show the love of God to each and every one we encounter every day.
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