If you know me at all, even a little bit, you know that I may be one of the biggest literature nerds around. I’ve been known to read entire books in a day, and I can pick out symbols out of just about anything, be it Jane Eyre or the movie Batman Begins. I love figuring out how works of writing fit together, how symbols and metaphors and foreshadowing all blend into this masterful work of art.
But let me tell you, ladies, I’ve never found a work of art like the Bible.
See, all the metaphors in my books eventually fall apart. There comes a point where the analogy just doesn’t fit anymore. But if you look at Biblical metaphors, they’re perfect. You can take them from so many different angles, but they work from all angles. The other part of a Biblical metaphor that’s far different from one in say, Jane Eyre is that no word of the Bible is wasted. Charlotte Bronte’s got some beautiful writing, but am I supposed to take her pretty words and apply them to my life? Of course not. The Master Author wrote the Bible to an end. This metaphor is speaking to us, trying to drive home a point, trying to make us change our lives for the better. So let’s look at one!
Take a look at Matthew 5:13— “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Even if you’re new to the church, I’m almost positive you’ve heard this before—we hear the salt and light metaphor so often that it almost starts to sound mundane. Oh, but it’s not! Before we dig in, go check out Colossians 4:6 and James 3:12 in your own Bible. These are the only other mentions of salt in the New Testament, and they’re both referring to your speech. That might be important.
Today we pretty much just put salt on our food to enhance flavors, but in the ancient world, salt was a hot commodity. Even into the Middle Ages, before the days of refrigeration, it was used to preserve food. Salt was so valuable in Jesus’ time that only the very rich could afford it. Some even used it as money.
Christianity and the preaching of the gospel are quite literally the spice of life. What can “enhance the flavor” of a person’s life like the gospel? How can a person be preserved past death and decay but through the gospel? What is more valuable than the gospel? The thing about salt is that it’s an agent. Once it’s salt, it doesn’t do anything more for itself, but instead it enhances and helps other things. That’s what Jesus means by us being the salt of the earth. Once we’ve obeyed the gospel and we’re living the Christian life, it’s our job to use the gospel to help others. To SPEAK about it. See what I meant about Colossians and James?
Have you ever watched a cooking show? I admit it, I’m a die-hard Food Network watcher. What do they always add, no matter what they’re cooking? Salt. Always. It apparently goes with every taste known to man, be it meat or soup or caramel. What if we realized, ladies, that Christianity goes with everything? That everybody needs the gospel? That anyone can be susceptible to the gospel? At first glance, I thought the Food Network chef was crazy, putting salt on her caramel, but you know what? It’s good! Spread the gospel even in the places you don’t think it’ll catch on, because everybody needs it, and anyone can accept it.
I mentioned before that salt was used as a form of payment. In Jesus’ time, swindlers would often trick unsuspecting people into taking sand instead of salt. At first glance, a grain of sand looks almost exactly like a grain of salt, but that’s about the only similarity. Sand can’t do any of the things salt can do. How often are we the sand instead of the salt? If we’re not actually telling anyone about God, how are we enhancing the world? Preserving it? Increasing its value? If we’re not doing those things, we’re useless as sand. We might as well be “thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”
So, dear ladies, we can take a few things from this study. One: the Bible is inspired. How does a normal, flesh and blood person come up with a metaphor that works that insanely well? He doesn’t. God does. God picked the perfect words for His Book. Two: We’ve got to spread the gospel, even in places it doesn’t seem like it would “taste good.” Three: We’ve got to make sure we’re the real deal. Fake salt won’t do the trick—we’ve got to be as much a Christian inside as we appear on the outside.
Pretty awesome, huh?
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 16) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.