I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount in preparation for giving a message later this month and came to these words that I have read and heard many times, but never really took time to consider closely: “You are the salt of the earth”. It made me stop in my tracks. What does that mean, really?
Many have theorized that the verse is about being a good Christian and many sermons and treatises have been written saying just that, but Jesus was not speaking to just his disciples, or just his followers. He was speaking to everyone. We, all of us, are the salt of the earth, regardless of who we are or what we have done. Everyone needs to be the salt, not just a select few.
So is it about good works? No. It is not about being a regular church-goer, or someone who tithes, or someone who wears their faith loudly and proudly. Time and time again, Jesus urges humility, a personal and private connection with God, and even in the words of his most famous sermon, meekness.
It’s about grace. It is about dealing with one another with respect and kindness. Salt is many things. Once, and still, it is a preservative. If we maintain kindness and respect toward one another, we will preserve ourselves. I believe we have the capability and responsibility to shape a heaven here on earth. The Kingdom of God is not just in the future or the afterlife, it is not merely the act of waiting while we suffer through pain, it is not martyrdom. It is actively and constantly working toward His kingdom here on earth. It is about keeping our saltiness, our grace, with each other.
Jesus was our example. He instructs all of us to do as He does. He instructs with gentleness and respect. He reserves any warnings of condemnation for those who have abandoned kindness and who have embraced the pursuit of pride and the acquisition of things over the importance of humility and generosity. Take a look at those in history who we have endowed with saintliness. These are people, women and men, who have shown true grace. We exalt them now because of the depth of their love, but in their own time, they did not seek out exaltation. They merely followed the example of grace and love provided by Jesus.
Examples of grace, of saltiness, are not limited to those who follow the teachings of Jesus. This is more proof to me that Jesus’ words transcend religion. They go right to the core of what it takes to be truly human, to be born in the image of God. Narayanan Krishnan is one of these human beings, a term I use with the utmost respect. His story below is one of the most moving examples of kindness and generosity I have ever encountered. He truly is the salt of the earth.
Consider the immense responsibility we all carry. We are not here for ourselves, we are here for everyone. We are here to care for, and love, everyone. I have failed in meeting that responsibility up to now. I lose myself so completely in the struggle to feed my own appetites that I neglect the very real hunger around me. I have lost my saltiness, but there is hope. We can rediscover our flavor, our ability to preserve. We can make the road less treacherous. We can listen and follow and inspire.