I mentioned this before, but the Bible reading plan I am following for this year has a daily reading from the Old Testament, Psalms, and the New Testament, which I like a lot. It provides a lot of variety in each day’s reading, and also helps me to scale back and keep the big picture of Scripture in mind.
I say all of that to explain that today’s thought comes from the Book of Matthew, which I read through back in January. In Matthew 5.13, Jesus says,
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
This is obviously a well-known passage, but what struck me about it this time is just how absurd the metaphor Jesus uses is and how harsh the implication of that metaphor is.
First, the absurdity: can you imagine sitting down at a restaurant with a plate of bland food and reaching for the salt only to discover that the salt had lost its flavor and was itself completely tasteless? Of course not: salt is inherently salty; it can’t be anything else. In the same way, it is absurd for someone to claim to be a Christian, and yet not “taste” anything like Christ.
And the harshness: did you catch what Jesus said about salt that had lost its taste? He said it was worthless and ought to be thrown out. So while it is absurd to have someone who claims to be a Christian but fails to exhibit the character of Christ, if that absurdity actually happens (and it does, all the time), then those “Christians” are worthless. Ouch.
It is very tempting for me to soften the words I just typed, but I’m not going to, because Jesus certainly didn’t soften them in the Sermon on the Mount. These words, which come right at the beginning of that sermon, are serious and weighty, and they provide sobering reminders for those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus: (a) it is absurd for us to call ourselves Christians and then fail to resemble Him in our lives, and (b) if we do that, we are “no longer good for anything.”